Cucumbers – Three Refreshing Recipes For You To Try This Summer

Here are three cooling recipes using cucumbers that you might well find useful during what promises to be another long hot summer. Not only that, but I’ve also included some interesting facts about the various ingredients that are in these two salads and a refreshing spritzer. Read on…

SPICY CUCUMBER SALAD

Cucumbers are fascinating – 95% water, at least 10 degrees cooler in their centre, only 16 cals (for the entire thing) and will even freshen your breath if you press a slice to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds. Cucumbers contain Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc – more or less a multivitamin!

Ingredients serves 4
1 large cucumber, peeled
1 tsp golden caster sugar
1 tbsp rice white wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
small knob of ginger, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
large handful coriander leaves

How to prepare
Slice the cucumber in half lengthways and use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice cucumber into thick diagonal chunks. Tip it into a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar, vinegar and large pinch of salt. Leave for about 30 mins in the fridge. Meanwhile, tip the other ingredients into a bowl. Drain the cucumber and add to the bowl. A great partner for crispy skinned chicken.

CUCUMBER, CHERRY & RADISH SALAD

Husband brought home a tray of cherries at the weekend and we munched away happily on them. Low calorie and packed with Vitamin A, this plump juicy fruit belongs to the rose family. It is believed the Romans discovered cherries around 70 BC in Asia Minor and introduced them to Britain in the first century AD. There are many species of cherry but the most commonly eaten ones are the wild or sweet cherry Prunus avium and the sour cherry Prunus Cerasus (derived from the Turkish town of the same name). You can add crumbled feta, and chopped pistachios to this Diana Henry recipe if you like.

Ingredients serves 4

FOR THE DRESSING ¾ tbsp white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, 6 tbsp olive oil, 1½ tbsp double cream, chopped tarragon leaves (from 6 sprigs), 1½ tsp caster sugar.

FOR THE SALAD ½ large cucumber, about 250g, 200g cherries, 150g radishes (multi-coloured ones look great), 40g pea shoots and handful unsprayed rose petals.

How to prepare

Mix the vinegar, mustard and some salt and pepper in a cup. Whisk in the oil, 1½ tbsp water and the cream. Add the tarragon and sugar. Mix and taste – you may want to adjust the seasoning or the sweetness. The consistency should be that of single cream. Cover and leave to sit for half an hour or so (this dressing improves as the tarragon flavour develops).

CUCUMBER, LIME & ELDERFLOWER SPRITZER

A tip top non-alcoholic drink that will cool you down. Mint-infused cucumber juice is topped up with fragrant elderflower cordial, punchy lime and soda water, and finished off with strips of cucumber and fresh mint sprigs. Apple mint, spearmint and peppermint are the most popular varieties of mint that are cultivated worldwide. Mint is rich source of vitamins A, C and B2. It also contains valuable minerals such as calcium, copper and magnesium.

Ingredients serves 4
250ml (8fl oz) elderflower cordial
1 1/2 cucumbers
600ml (1pt) soda water
4 limes, juiced
handful mint sprigs
ice cubes

How to prepare
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the whole cucumber then peel off 4 long strips of flesh. Transfer to a plate lined with nonstick baking paper, and then roll up to make cucumber roll garnishes.

Roughly chop the rest of the cucumber. Put in a food processor with 12 mint leaves and blitz to a pulp. Tip the pulp into a fine sieve set over a bowl and, using a wooden spoon, press as much juice as possible into the bowl. You should end up with about 250ml (8fl oz) of juice. Discard the pulp.

Mix the minty cucumber juice, elderflower cordial and lime juice in a jug, and then top up with soda water. Pour into 4 tall glasses filled with ice cubes and garnish each with a mint sprig, cucumber garnish and straw.

Click here for the cooling Chilled Cucumber and Yoghurt Soup pictured above.