Cool as a Cucumber - Nine Easy Ways to Use One of Summer's Best Veggies

Words and photos by Rachael Bender, special to EdibleDC CucumbersIt's cucumber season! Cukes have had a strong season and are plentiful in the farm markets, and maybe from your home garden. Growing cucumbers is easy and rewarding. Using a trellis to help the vines grow as tall as they grow wide, it’s an adventure to sift through the big leaves and pretty yellow flowers each day to find ready-to-pick cucumbers hidden inside. But when you have an abundance of anything perishable, the question is always: what should I do with it all? Here are ideas for using this superfood daily.

Make pickles. Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Find your favorite mason jars and make a brining liquid for turning your cucumbers into sweet or sour pickles. Check out recipes here and here.

Freshen up your H2O. We all need to stay hydrated in the warm summer weather. Throw cucumber slices into your prettiest pitcher for an instant classic. They are 95% water anyway!

Explore salads from around the world. Make a Japanese cucumber salad with soy sauce, rice vinegar, scallions and a dash of sesame oil. Chop up a Greek salad with tomatoes, onions and olive oil. Add cucumbers to your favorite tabbouleh recipe. It’s an easy upgrade from your average garden salad.

Japanese Cucumber Salad

Host high tea. It’s as easy as a cucumber sandwich – thin slices on high-quality white bread slathered with cream cheese mixed will dill and a little lemon juice. Cut into triangles for a fancy presentation so you’re ready for that surprise visit from Queen Elizabeth and Princess Kate.

Spiralize it. The spiralizer gets prime real estate on my kitchen counter all summer because I use it so often. Make sesame cucumber noodles with peanut sauce for a bowl that tastes like takeout.

Enjoy a refreshing frappe. Blend cucumbers with plain Greek yogurt, lime juice, fresh mint, ice and a pinch of sugar for a smoothie delight. Add macerated blackberries to the bottom of the glass to make it a dessert.

Cucumber Frappe with Blackberries

Taste tzatziki. I recently hosted a Greek-themed dinner for friends and one dish on the table all night was tzatziki. This refreshing sauce is great with grilled meats or as a dip with veggies and pita.

Channel your inner Julia Child. Cucumbers baked in butter? Yep. That’s what Julia would do. Find the recipe with multiple variations here.

Have an afternoon snack. One of my favorite ways to eat cucumbers is to peel, slice and dress with lemon and pinch of salt. Simple, quick and healthy.

Whether used for meals, as a hangover cure or as an anti-inflammatory eye mask, remember that cucumbers are one of summer’s best produce.


Rachel_BenderRachael Bender enjoys cooking as much as dining out, particularly when she can use harvests from her home garden.  A regulatory attorney by day, she caught the travel bug and looks forward to sampling local cuisines while visiting all 50 states with her husband.