Cucumbers. What do we really know about them? Sure, they’re a summer vegetable, but they are so inexpensive and available all year round, we really ought to incorporate them in our menus more often.
And yes, cucumbers are really a vegetable even though their nearest relatives are pumpkins and watermelon. There are only two kinds of cukes, the pickling kind, which have some bumps on the outside and are smaller, and the eating kind, which are just delicious, low in calories and full. Actually, about 95 per cent full of water. Which means eating about a cup of sliced cukes gives your body as much fluid as a full glass of water. But they have more than water, in that they have a decent, though not huge, supply of vitamins A and K and a perfect blend of vitamins, minerals and more importantly oxidants. They originated in India, but cucumbers are pretty much in every homeowners back yard garden because they are easy to grow.
Cucumbers are great in all kinds of salad, but ingenious and design some of your own. Because their taste is not overwhelming, they blend well with almost anything. Try a salad of diced cucumber and sliced strawberries, for instance, or simply dice or slice them in any salad. For something fancier, scoop out the innards, and make attractive little salad boats out of cucumbers, filling the boats with a tuna or chicken salad, or chop up the scooped out cuke meat and mix with chopped up lettuce, onions and celery, and mix it with olive oil before refilling the boat. For something unique, blend together creamed cheese, chopped bacon pieces, lettuce and tomato for another unusual taste treat. Be creative, throw in some pecans, grapes or cranberries. Again, because cucumbers have a mild taste, it's fun to blend them with other fruits and vegetables.
Here’s one recipe, though for Cukes and Garbanzos, which has added benefits in fighting macular degeneration because of those garbanzo beans.
Cukes and Beans
1 can Garbanzo beans, washed and drained
1 Cup chopped feta cheese
1 Cup chopped red onion
½ Cup salad dressing ( or olive oil)
Some chopped fresh dill.
1 large Cucumber, diced
Simply mix them all together, serve, and enjoy!