Sure, you can slice a cucumber and throw it into a salad, but that doesn't necessarily inspire a trip to the grocery store. A recent conversation in Well+Good's Cook With Us Facebook group, however, is about to make you look at cucumbers in a different light.
What can I do with lots of cucumbers?
A member of Cook With Us shared with the group that her local food pantry had bestowed upon her 18 gorgeous cucumbers—too many to know what to do with. When she asked other group members how to cook with cucumbers, there was no shortage of ideas. (There's so much more you can do with 'em than turn them into a cucumber salad or "spa cucumber water.")
With a water content of 95 percent, cucumbers are among the most hydrating foods. The combination of water and fiber makes them especially good for digestive health. For fresh ideas to cook plenty of cucumber dishes this season, look no further than the list below, straight from the members of Cook With Us.
6 creative cucumber recipes for summer
1. Pickled cucumbers (aka pickles)
What does vinegar do to cucumbers?
There are so many things to pickle that you didn't know could be pickled. (Say, pickled avocados. Go figure.) But if you have more cucumbers than you know what to do with, several Cook With Us members pointed out that you can always turn them into, you know, pickles. Pickling completely transforms the taste, especially if you add anti-inflammatory spices like garlic, bay leaves, and dill. Not to mention, it'll make a mean dill cucumber sandwich.
What does soaking cucumbers in water or brine do?
And did you know that this staple ingredient is good for the gut, too? Especially if they're fermented without vinegar using a water and salt brine.“Lacto-fermentation is a slightly different approach to pickle production. Instead of splashing vinegar over cucumbers, you instead set up a bunch of cucumbers in a jar of brine with herbs and spices. Naturally existing on the surface of the cucumber will be living microbes like Lactobacillus plantarum or Leuconostoc mesenteroides, which represent the cucumber's microbiome. And when you place the cukes into the brine, you allow these microbes to multiply and grow,” gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, MD, previously shared with Well+Good.
If you need some directions to get you started with pickling, check out this recipe from The Mediterranean Dish, which breaks it down step by step. And for a sans-vinegar approach, this recipe by Feasting at Home can also help point you in the right direction.
2. Tzatziki dip with cucumbers
Another Cook With Us member shared that she likes to blend her cucumbers with Greek yogurt, olive oil, and dill, turning it into a creamy dip. It's one that happens to go well with raw, sliced cucumbers. You can also spread this concoction onto sandwiches or use it as a dressing for salads and grain bowls. Try making it yourself with this recipe from Love and Lemons.
Plus, if you're looking to meet your protein quotas for the day, you can also swap Greek yogurt for cottage cheese. Although it's far from a traditional approach to this classic Mediterranean dip, it's a great way to up the nutrient value for a quick, nourishing midday snack.
3. High-protein stuffed cucumbers
You've probably stuffed peppers or avocados, but what about cucumbers? "I like to cut them length-wise, scoop out the middle, and fill the center with tuna," one member shared. The combo of protein, healthy fats, and fiber with just these two ingredients makes it the perfect healthy snack. And that crunch is so darn satisfying. This recipe from registered dietitian Emily Kyle, RD, shows exactly how to do it. You can also save the pulp for one of the other uses rounded up here, like the tzatziki dip.
For a vegetarian or vegan-friendly approach, feel free to swap the tuna for other sources of plant-based protein instead. This includes longevity-boosting options like chickpeas, white beans, tofu, or edamame, to name a few.
Another fun snacktime idea? Similar to making stuffable cucumber boats, you can also make cucumber sushi rolls. Yep, that's right. Talk about the perfect party appetizer. To make them, simply excavate the pulpy center of a cucumber to create a hollow cavity to stuff with the fillings of your choice, like white rice, avocado, imitation crab, fish, and carrots inside the cucumber. The options are endless! Trust: It's much easier (and beginner-friendly) than rolling sushi in a fragile sheet of nori (seaweed).
4. Cucumber juice
One Cook With Us member shared her simple recipe for a refreshing summer juice: cucumbers, celery, pineapple, ginger, and apples. All you have to do is cut them up, throw 'em in the blender, and voilà—the perfect summer sip on a hot day. Here's an easy recipe from Yumna Jawad of Feel Good Foodie. Or, you can make a matcha-infused green juice packed with L-theanine, which helps reduce stress and promote healthy aging. Not to mention, it'll give you that much-needed zap of energy first thing in the day.
Of course, if green juice looks a bit intimidating, you can always opt for a simpler option, like tried-and-true cucumber water. After all, it's like a one-two punch; It's packed with tons of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory vitamins and minerals, and it's ultra-hydrating.
5. Cold cucumber summer soup
Intentionally cold soup, anyone? If your summer soup recipe repertoire doesn't begin and end with gazpacho, you're doing yourself a serious disservice. Cucumbers blended with yogurt and olive oil make the perfect quick lunch and are basically the epitome of a refreshing summertime meal. Watch the video above to see how to make this delicious cucumber recipe. Sign me up! Plus, we say, why stop making delicious soups once winter is over when you enjoy 'em all year round? Need inspo? Here are nine easy summer soups packed with anti-inflammatory and gut health benefits, including a chilled tomato summer soup and a zesty Mediterranean shrimp soup.
6. Smashed cucumber toast
One Cook With Us member shared that she likes to mix up her morning toast by topping a whole grain slice with mashed-up cucumbers and a few gut-friendly spices, like ginger, coriander, and turmeric. That said, you'll still need some protein and healthy fats in order to make this a fully satiating morning meal, so add some egg, tuna, or chickpeas in order to round it out as the perfect meal for any time of day.
Indeed, there are plenty of easy options to help boost your protein intake first thing in the day. (Ahem, cottage cheese.) But really, registered dietitians recommend folks consume a minimum of 30 grams of protein for breakfast. For context, two eggs offer roughly only 12 grams of protein. However, pairing this delicious cucumber toast with a bowl of protein-rich cereal will certainly be enough to do the trick in one fell swoop.
A dietitian's guide to the most hydrating foods:
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