2012-09-06 / Local & State

Cool Summertime Recipes For Cucumbers

Plenty of Pennsylvania “Simply Delicious” cucumbers are now available at roadside farm markets, community farmer’s markets and local supermarkets. Pennsylvania growers produce over 600 acres of cucumbers each year. Cucumbers are the basis for many cool and refreshing salads but can also be pickled or cooked various ways.

Cucumbers grow on vines like their cousins: cantaloupes, watermelons, squash, and pumpkins. According to the Wellness Encyclopedia for Food and Nutrition (University of California at Berkeley), cucumbers originated in Asia and were brought to America by Columbus where both colonists and native Americans began growing them.

There are many different varieties of cucumbers, but the more commonly available kinds are greenhouse or seedless cucumbers, which can be as long as 1 to 2 feet, dark green slicing cucumbers which are about 8 inches long, and lighter green pickling cucumbers. Some pickling varieties will get eight inches long also, but most are smaller or simply harvested at a much smaller size.

Cucumbers are mostly water, which is why they add such a cool and refreshing taste to salads. They are low in calories, but ,unfortunately, are also low in vitamins. They can still add their delicate flavor to nutritious summer salads and other recipes.

Here are some tasty cucumber recipes from the 2012 Pennsylvania Vegetable Recipe Contest:

Asian Cucumber Salad

Serves 8

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger root salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons honey

3/4 teaspoon sesame oil

1 gourmet seedless cucumber, thinly sliced, not pared

4 green onions, thinly sliced

6 red radishes, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

8 ounces lump crabmeat or cooked and peeled shrimp, optional

Make dressing by combining the rice vinegar, ginger root, salt, pepper, honey, and sesame oil. Add the cucumber, green onions and radishes. Toss ingredients and allow to stand in refrigerator 10 minutes for flavors to blend. Divide salad among bowls and garnish each with toasted sesame seeds. NOTE: If using crab or shrimp, it should be added to salad just before serving.

Submitted by Frances Dietz, York. First-Place Prize, Melon/ Cucumber Category

Multicolor Salad
Serves 4
6 to 8 lettuce leaves
1 cup spinach leaves
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, cut small
2 cups diced cucumbers
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup black olives
Line salad bowl with
whole lettuce leaves. Tear
the spinach and parsley into
bite-sized pieces and place
in a bowl. Finally mix and
add all the other ingredients.
Add on top:
2 avocados, cut in cubes
2 cups toasted whole
wheat bread crumbs

Submitted Elen Wennell, Mechanicsburg

Cucumbers in Dill Sour
Cream Sauce
Serves 4
2 large cucumbers,
peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium red onion,
thinly sliced (optional)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/3 cup white vinegar 4 tablespoons chopped
fresh dill
4 packs sweetner (more
or less to taste)
salt and pepper if desired Place sliced cucumbers
and onions in a bowl. Mix
sour cream, vinegar and dill
and sweetner together into
a sauce. Pour on top of
cucumbers and onions.
Chill. Serve with salt and
pepper if desired.

Submitted by Susan Sell,

Harrisburg

The Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program offers these tips when buying cucumbers:

Select slicing cucumbers with a rich green color. Pickling cucumbers typically have light green skins. Cucumbers should be uniformly shaped, not pointed or misshappen.

Cucumbers should be refrigerated. Uncut, they will keep for a week or more, especially if waxed.

Cut cucumbers should be wrapped tighly in plastic wrap and used in a day or two.

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