"Out the ying-yang.” That’s what I’m thinkin’ about the garden’s dutiful presentation of a basketful of cucumbers one morning after the next now that the temperatures here in eastern Missouri have climbed into the more-seasonal if less-welcome 90s. I’m ruthless about rejects: if there’s even a hint of bruising or biting from creatures-of-the-night, bam, into the compost box those babies go. (And have I told you about the cucumber-loving woodchuck? Okay, encourage me and I will. Tee hee ...) But even the perfect ones stack up, so many we can barely give them away. Some times I fear that if I see even one more cucumber, I might just start wishing away the summer.
Instead, I peel and chop and voila, the cucumbers have been redeemed and I’m happy cucumber lover again. This cucumber-tomato salsa works with both hothouse English cucumbers (those are the long thin ones from the grocery store readily available year-round) and garden cucumbers (these are often fat and tougher-skinned). Both yield a wet, crisp salsa that’s good as a dip and/or appetizer or a salad on the side.
RECIPE for CREAMY CUCUMBER-TOMATO SALSA
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 2-1/2 cups
2 cups finely chopped cucumber, skins peeled or “striped” first if they’re tough, seeded if necessary (see ALANNA’s TIPS)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 cup finely chopped radish
1/4 cup (60g) low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
4 tablespoons fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, oregano, etc.)
1 tablespoon very finely minced jalapeño
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin (don’t skip this)
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
SALSA Drop cucumber, tomatoes and radish into a colander to drain while making the Creamy Dressing.
CREAMY DRESSING Mix all ingredients, stir in cucumber, tomato and radish.
SERVE Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with crackers, pita chips, scoops, etc or by the scoopful on the side. Surprisingly, keeps for several days.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
KNIFE WORK The finer the cucumber, tomato and radish are chopped, the easier the salsa works as a dip. If you’re serving the salsa on the side, size matters less.
ABOUT CUCUMBERS Hothouse English cucumbers have tender skins and few, if any seeds. They rarely need peeling or seeding. Garden cucumbers, whether from your own garden or the “garden” at the grocery store produce department, often have tough skins and large, wet seeds. If the skins are tough, do peel or “stripe” these first with a vegetable peeler. Then, cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and use a spoon (a serrated grapefruit spoon works especially well) to scrape out and discard the seeds. There’s lots more waste but the garden cucumbers are considerably cheaper to buy too, it probably works out six of one and a half dozen of the other.
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