Celebrating the Art of Good Food
Roberta Jackson, RD
We are grateful to have Roberta working with us to craft some resources to help you create healthy, delicious dishes with Farmhub produce. Roberta brings years of experience as a chef and registered dietitian to provide insights on food that tastes good and is good for you. Her blog posts feature recipes made with as much FarmHub produce as possible, at three levels of difficulty. You can connect with Roberta on Instagram @robertaleighjackson.
Cucumbers seem to be synonymous with warm weather: crisp, juicy and refreshing! Perhaps this is because they thrive in the heat, thought to be native to South India which explains their usage in cultural foods like Raita and Kachumber (1). Garden, Pickling, Armenian, Burpless, Lebanese and Long English are a few varieties to name, however there is just one question to ask when selecting cucumbers-are you slicing or pickling?
Slicing varieties are longer with dark glossy skin. Pickling varieties tend to be smaller, more irregular in shape with bumpy or dotted spines (1,2). Generally cucumbers are harvested as an immature fruit. As they age the skin becomes tough, yellow and bitter; when selecting cucumbers choose ones that are firm and without soft spots (3). Cucumbers can be stored whole in the fridge for a week (or more), but start to deteriorate once cut. So eat them up!
They are the perfect snack, can be topped like a cracker with smoked salmon and cream cheese, easily tossed in a salad, or with minimal work can be transformed into something quite wonderful. Cucumbers are full of water (90%) and are a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous, calcium and magnesium (3). They are more nutritious when the peels are left on, but if you find cucumbers repeat on you, peeling and removing the seeds may help (3).
Staying Cool...with Cucumbers!
Cucumber Salsa Recipe
Cucumber is not an imposter but star of the show in this salsa, which uses all the traditional Pico de Gallo ingredients plus the addition of olive oil. It is a terrific starter served with tortilla chips or a perfect accompaniment for a veggie burger, seared or poached white fish.
Spicy Quick Cucumber Pickles
For those who can’t find the time to devote to traditional pickling this is a sweet alternative. Quick pickles are easy and require very little preparation time. Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and spices of your choice. Slice the cucumbers as you wish and let sit in the liquid. This recipe suggests the pickles sit for one hour in the fridge before eating.
Other reasons to quick pickle…you can apply this method to almost all
fresh, hard vegetables. It transforms flavours and can add stunning colour to any dish. Try red onions, carrots or cauliflower.
Perhaps you have a favourite cucumber salad to bring to your next potluck. If not, this combination of fresh herbs (basil substituted for mint and dill), sesame oil, red onion and grainy mustard will brighten any meal.
Cool Cucumber Gazpacho
Inspired by the heat wave? Or post-warm weather blues? Maybe just feeling
adventurous? A cold soup can transport you to that perfect place! This one takes advantage of the abundance of cucumbers available locally at the end of the summer growing season.
The recipe also has a lovely kick: herbs, jalapeños and creamy texture thanks to the addition of yogurt and sour cream. It certainly helps to have a very high powered blender to make this soup silky smooth when processing cucumbers with skins. Don’t let a chunky texture hold you back from giving it a try!
Helpful links to food resources:
2. Barber, K et al. (2013). The Illustrated Cook Book of Ingredients. New York, NY: DK Publishing.