Cool as a Cucumber

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What weird weather we’re having just now-glorious sunshine, torrential rain, heat and mugginess!  It’s also doing weird things to my garden produce.  The plum tree has no plums; the pear trees are covered; lots of blackberries; no raspberries!  The tomatoes are many but green – and my courgettes and CUCUMBERS flower beautifully but come to nothing! Thankfully, there are lots in the shops and relatively cheap so I thought we would look at what we can do with this underappreciated vegetable!

You can obviously add it to drinks – chopped, sliced or ribboned (with a potato peeler) – anything from plain water to cordials to gin and tonics.  Salads, of course, and sandwiches – and you can also cook with them and pickle them. They have a high water content, are low in calories and full of vitamins C and K so what’s not to like?

Green Cucumber and Mint Gazpacho

  • 1 cucumber, halved lengthways, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small avocado, chopped
  • bunch spring onions
  • small bunch mint
  • 150ml pot fat-free natural yogurt
  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • few shakes green Tabasco sauce
  • snipped chives, to serve

In a food processor or blender, blitz all the ingredients, reserving half the mint and yogurt, until smooth. Add a little extra vinegar, Tabasco and seasoning to taste, then add a splash of water if you like it thinner. Chill until very cold, then serve with a dollop more yogurt, mint, chives and a few ice cubes if you like. The soup will keep in the fridge for 2 days – just give it a good stir before serving.

Quick Pickled Cucumbers

1 large cucumber, ends trimmed, cut in half widthways and spiralized into thick ribbons 1 tsp flaky sea salt                                       1 tbsp white wine vinegar                                          1 tbsp caster sugar                                      ½ tsp coriander seeds                                                   a small handful of dill, leaves picked

Toss the cucumber ribbons with the salt in a colander. Leave for 15 mins then squeeze out any excess moisture with your hands and pat the ribbons dry with a tea towel. Mix the other ingredients together in a small bowl then stir in the cucumber.

And to finish . . . Cucumber and Elderflower Spritzer – makes about 6 glasses (you deserve it after all this time in the kitchen!)

  • 1 cucumber, ends trimmed
  • ½ bottle white wine
  • 200ml elderflower cordial
  • few sprigs of mint
  • soda water, chilled

Chop the cucumber into a few chunks, then put in a blender or food processor with the wine and elderflower cordial. Whizz until well blended, then pour through a sieve set over a large bowl or jug. Tip the contents of the sieve back into the machine, whizz again until pulpy, then sieve again into the liquid already collected. Add 1-2 tablesps cucumber pulp from the sieve into the liquid and discard the rest. Chill until ready to serve.               To serve: fill glasses with a few ice cubes and some mint leaves. Pour in enough cucumber base to come halfway up the glass, then top up with soda water.







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