Six Recipes Starring Fresh Cucumbers
Acar with Fried Garlic
Tomato-Cucumber Relish with Lemon and Seeds
Frisee with Apple, Cucumber and Walnuts
Cucumber, Garlic and Yogurt Sauce
North African Cucumber-Tomato Salad
Cucumber-Mustard Dill Sauce
The first two recipes are from one
of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Salsas,
Sambals, Chutneys &
Chowchows, by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby. Acar, they
explain, is the name for various Indonesian mixtures of vegetables,
vinegar and spices, which serve as condiments, pickles or salads. In this
recipe, take care not to let the garlic burn or it will turn bitter. The
authors say this tomato-cucumber relish is modeled after koshimbirs, the
relishes of India’s Maharashtra state.
Acar with Fried Garlic
¼ cup virgin olive oil
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 tsp each ground coriander, ground cumin, ground white pepper, ground
and curry powder
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup small-diced carrots
2 smallish unpeeled cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, then in thin disks
1 red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
salt to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Saute the garlic in olive oil over
medium heat, stirring frequently for 6 to 7 minutes, until
garlic turns light brown.
- Add the ginger and spices and cook
for 2 more minutes, stirring to prevent burning.
- Add vinegar and sugar and cook 3
more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the carrots, cucumber, and
bell pepper slices, remove from the heat, and stir well.
- Season with salt to taste, then
add the cilantro.
- Allow to come to room temperature,
This acar will keep, covered and refrigerated, 4 to 5 days.
Relish with Lemon and Seeds
1 baseball-sized tomato, diced small
1 unpeeled cucumber, seeds in, diced small
1 small red onion, diced small
1 tsp minced red or green chile pepper of your choice
¾ cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 T sugar
1 tsp each crushed cumin seeds, crushed coriander seeds, black mustard
(you may substitute yellow mustard seeds)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, combine all the
ingredients and mix well.
- This relish will keep, covered and
refrigerated, about 4 days.
This recipe, from the
same pair’s Lettuce in Your Kitchen, is
Schlesinger and Willoughby’s take on the classic Middle Eastern-style
combination of yogurt, cucumbers and mint. (See below for North African
variations on this dish.) True to form, Schlesinger and Willoughby add
some surprising twists with the honey, apples, pomegranate seeds, and the
salad green frisee. While that lacy-leafed chicory is the green of first
choice for this recipe, Schlesinger and Willoughby say that watercress,
escarole or curly endive will do fine, if you can’t find frisee.
with Apple, Cucumber and Walnuts
For the dressing:
¼ cup plain yogurt
½ cup olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice (about ½ large lemon)
2 T honey
1 T ground coriander
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
For the salad:
1 head frisee, trimmed, washed, and dried
1 cucumber, peeled if you want, diced large
1 Granny Smith or other tart apple, cored and diced large
¼ cup dark raisins
½ cup walnut pieces, toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking,
just begin to sizzle, about 5 minutes
½ cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
- In a small bowl, whisk together
the yogurt and olive oil. Add all remaining dressing ingredients
and whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl, combine the
frisee, cucumber, apple, and raisins. Stir the dressing well,
add just enough to moisten the ingredients (you will have some
dressing left over), and toss to coat.
- Place on a serving platter or
individual plates, sprinkle with the walnuts and the pomegranate
seeds if you have them, and serve.
This is Paula Wolfert’s
Eastern Mediterranean version of the classic Middle Eastern-Central Asian
salad-like sauce featuring diced cucumbers and mint in yogurt, which goes
by a variety of names. In Persian fashion, I like to add raisins or dried
currants and chopped walnuts to the mixture detailed below. This recipe is
from Wolfert’s The Cooking of the Eastern
Garlic and Yogurt Sauce
1 long English cucumber, peeled
2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with a pinch of salt
3 tsp dried mint, crumbled and pressed through a fine sieve
1 tsp olive oil
Sprigs of fresh mint for garnish
- Finely dice the cucumber.
- In a medium bowl, combine the
yogurt, garlic, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Add the cucumber and the
dried mint, and blend well.
- Cover and refrigerate until well
chilled, about 1 hour.
- Garnish with a drizzle of olive
oil and sprigs of fresh mint.
This is an ubiquitous
salad in North Africa, writes Morocco-born cookbook author Kitty
Each nation in the region adds its own accent to the dish. Algerians toss
in chopped mint while Moroccans might add some chopped preserved lemon
rind while Tunisians use Tabil, a spice mix made from ¼ cup ground
coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon ground caraway, 1-1/2 tablespoons garlic
powder and 1 tablespoon New Mexico chili powder. In my favorite of Morse’s
cookbooks, Cooking at the Kasbah, she offers
a simpler version of this salad, holding the radishes and bell pepper and
using just cucumber, tomato, green onion, and chopped mint tossed with
olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. In her book, The
Vegetarian Table: North Africa, Morse calls for the cucumbers to be
diced and sprinkled with salt for 30 minutes to drain, and for this salad
to be chilled. In the version of this recipe that appears in Cooking at
the Kasbah, the cucumbers aren’t drained and the finished dish is
supposed to be served at room temperature. The cucumbers Morse prefers are
long, thin and virtually seedless, and are sometimes marketed as English,
European or hothouse cucumbers in the United States.
African Cucumber-Tomato Salad
salt for sprinkling
4 green onions with tops, finely chopped
2 radishes, finely diced
½ red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and finely diced
15 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, minced
2 T minced fresh mint
or 1 tsp Tabil
or 1 tsp finely diced preserved lemon rind
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 Kalamata or nicoise olives for garnish
- In a serving bowl, combine the
cucumber, tomatoes, onions, Tabil or mint or preserved lemon,
olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
This recipe is from The
Cuisine of California, the book by Diane Rossen Worthington first
published in 1983, that is considered the leading classic on the cuisine
that came to be known as Californian. She calls this cucumber sauce
"extraordinary" and says it goes well with fish or artichokes or
as a dip for raw vegetables.
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 T finely chopped fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried dill
1 T finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup peeled, coarsely chopped cucumber
½ tsp salt
Pinch of finely ground white pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a
medium bowl and stir until well blended. Taste for
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Serve cold. May be kept up to 2
days in refrigerator.