Have you ever thought about the versatility of cucumbers? At first glance they might look quite unimpressive, but the Cucumin sativus definitely has plenty to offer.
Not only can you eat it raw, steamed, or cooked, but you can use it for a refreshing face mask or add it to drinks, chilled soups, or frozen desserts, too. What other food can offer such diverse and fabulous uses?
There is another great advantage to this vegetable. The cucumber is a low-calorie food that consists of up to 98% water, which makes it an ideal ingredient for dieting, guilt-free snacking, and including in summer recipes.
When buying it from farmers markets or in supermarkets, try to find products with untreated skin, and wash thoroughly at home, because you really don’t want to peel it – many of the best vitamins are hidden in the skin.
Additionally, leaving the peel on this veggie gives your salad a nice splash of color.
When selecting a cucumber to bring home, keep an eye on its general outer appearance. It should feel firm and have a rich green color, without any pressure marks on the skin.
A fresh cucumber can be stored in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator for up to one week.
And if you’re interested in growing them fresh in your own garden, you’ll love this informative post from our sister site, Gardener’s Path.
As I mentioned before, a great side benefit of the veggie is its cosmetic quality. Due to its high water content, it can work as a moisturizer for your skin.
To soothe a sunburn, cool the affected areas of your face or body with a few raw slices.
When your eyes are stressed after hours of sitting in front of a computer, you can put some slices on your closed eyelids.
It will also help blemished or sensitive skin when included in various skin creams.
Back to the culinary uses for this garden vegetable. Depending on the preparation, it is not usually necessary to remove the seeds.
However, if you mix it with yogurt or cream, this might be the better choice, to avoid diluting the dish with its high water content.
Another way to avoid the problem is described in our recipe for tzatziki dip. By salting the slices and running them thorough a food mill (and allowing it to set for awhile), the extra water that collects can easily be poured away.
But the cucumber is fantastic on its own too, without any help of other ingredients. Peel or cut a pattern into the skin for a fancy buffet garnish.
Running it through a vegetable spiralizer is also a fantastic idea, to spiff it up a little.
Fresh cucumber can even be used in sweet recipes, like this refreshing sorbet.
Or, you could even halve cucumbers and scoop out the seeds to use as boats for serving hummus, dips, and salads.
Both recipes below are great ideas for bringing on a picnic, or serving at warm-weather parties or barbecues.
Cucumber Recipe Ideas
Tzatziki is a yogurt-based dip from Greece. The cucumber gives it a fresh flavor, and it can be served with ciabatta, pita bread, baked potatoes, or grilled meat.
Classic Greek Salad
Classic Greek Salad (sometimes referred to as a Turkish shepherd’s salad) is also quite famous. Fresh vegetables that are mixed with parsley and mint make a nice Mediterranean combination, and the flavor is boosted by the addition of crumbled feta and olives.
Photo credit: Credited photos by Lorna Kring, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.