Montana Public Radio

Cool Or Cooked, Cucumbers Are Not Merely Pickles

Jul 18, 2016

"Since cumbersome is a word,
Cumber must have been a word,
Lost to us now, and even then,
For a person feeling encumbered,
It must have felt orderly and right-minded
To stand at a sink and slice a cucumber."

- excerpt from "Poem With a Cucumber In It," by Robert Haas

"So many vegetables, they only have one use. That would certainly be the case with cucumbers, because what can you do with them besides make pickles, right?"

Food Guy Jon Jackson's pretense to cucumber ignorance isn't very convincing, but Other Food Guy Greg Patent obligingly offers a list that includes cucumber sandwiches, cucumber salad, and braised cucumbers.

You can make cucumber salad using sliced, peeled, salted English cucumbers dressed with sour cream and chopped fresh dill. An alternate dressing would be a vinaigrette: olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, fresh parsley, salt, pepper and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce.

To get rid of the sometimes-troublesome seeds - especially the large ones - just halve the vegetable and scoop them out.

The French like to braise all sorts of vegetables, including cucumbers. Cut them into half-inch lengths, lightly salt and let them sit for half an hour, then pat dry. Melt a tablespoon or two of butter, toss the cucumber slices in the butter and heat them for 3-4 minutes. They'll cook but will remain crispy and will have a completely different flavor from raw cucumbers. You can add chopped parsley, garlic, capers or chopped anchovies and serve as a side dish.

And yes, Jon, there are pickled cucumbers.

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 4/5/20, 7/17 16 & 7/21/16. Listen weekly on the radio at 9:53 a.m. Sundays, or via podcast.)