It does not pay to be different if you are an Ontario English cucumber. At a recent farm tour, that is, greenhouse farm tour of cucumbers, we observed thousands of perfect straight cucumbers having their waxy finish applied and being carefully packed in cartons for Canadian and American supermarkets. Within hours they would be arriving at food terminals to be distributed immediately to the market so that you, the consumer, could be crunching down on their edible skin and enjoying every crispy mouthful rich with fibre, vitamin C and folacin within a day or two of being picked.
However, any curvy siblings were shipped out as not quite up to grade simply because of a wiggle. The deep green lookalikes are also described as ‘burpless’ and seedless making them an easy-to-eat vegetable, no peeling nor seeding required – simply slice and serve or incorporate them into these recipes supplied by the Greenhouse Vegetable Growers.
Cucumber and Watermelon Salad
A refreshing salad for a hot summer’s day, this is a great addition to any barbecue. If you like, sprinkle the salad with crumbled feta cheese
6 cups (1.5 L) seedless watermelon cubes – 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
2 cups (500 mL) thinly sliced cucumbers
1/2 cup (125 mL) red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup (80 mL) cider vinegar
1/4 cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
3 tbsp (45 mL) fresh basil leaves, sliced
2 tbsp (25 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp (2ml) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
optional garnish: 1 cup/250 mL
crumbled feta cheese
In a large bowl combine watermelon cubes, cucumbers and onion slices. In a separate bowl, whisk together cider vinegar, oil, basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over watermelon, cucumbers and onion; stir gently to coat. Spoon salad into serving bowl and garnish with additional basil leaves. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. May be made up to four hours in advance. Makes four to six servings.
Greek Summer Salad
Make this Ontario version of Greek salad with our own greenhouse peppers, cucumbers and cocktail tomatoes.
To roast peppers, cut in half and remove seeds and membrane. Coat the outside of the peppers with vegetable oil and place open side down on baking sheet. Place under the broiler and broil until skins are black and blistered. Cover peppers in a bowl and allow to rest for 15 minutes. This makes it easy to peel the black skin and discard.
1/3 cup (80 mL) extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp (45 mL) red wine vinegar
2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh oregano, minced or use 2 tsp (10 mL) dried
2 tsp (10 mL) lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
1 cucumber, halved and sliced 1/4 inch (6mm) thick
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 romaine hearts, torn into bite sized pieces
2 cups (500 mL) cocktail tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh mint, minced
1 cup (250mL) crumbled feta cheese
3/4 cup (175 mL) pitted kalamata olives
In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the red onion and cucumbers; allow to marinate 20 minutes while preparing the other vegetables. Add the romaine leaves, roasted pepper strips, tomatoes and mint to bowl. Toss with dressing until evenly coated. Arrange on a serving platter or individual plates and sprinkle evenly with olives and cheese. Makes four servings.
Cool as a Cucumber Slaw or Dip
This makes a refreshing salad to accompany salmon or lamb, or works wells as a dip with toasted pita triangles.
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) thick Greek style yogurt
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh dill finely minced
1 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fresh black pepper
Cut the cucumber lengthwise; remove the seeds with a spoon. Coarsely grate cucumber or thinly slice and add to mixing bowl with yogurt, dill, salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine all ingredients. Spoon salad into serving bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. May be made up to one day ahead. Makes four servings.
Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer email@example.com