Chef Kelly Unger
Hydrate with Cucumbers
Cucumbers are in the cucurbit family along with zucchini, summer and winter squash and melons. In Georgian cuisine, summer meals always contain a cucumber and tomato salad with fresh herbs, scallions and chilis, usually undressed. And pickles are also a huge part of the Georgian diet, preserving the cucumber harvest for the cold winters. In Greek cuisine, cucumbers are crucial - a main component of their beloved and famous sauce Tzatziki and are also used in every type of salad. Cucumbers are also an important ingredient in Gazpacho from the Andalucia region in southern Spain.
I am a huge pickle fan - plain dills, bread and butter, hot and sweet. I haven’t met a pickle I didn’t like. Fresh cucumbers are very hydrating - they’re loaded with water, of course, and also full of minerals that aid hydration, so eating them raw is best. I don’t peel my cucumbers but I will sometimes take out the seeds depending on how I’m using them. When I’m feeling especially dehydrated or on super hot days like we’ve had lately, I like to take a half of a cucumber and puree it with some water, coconut water, and freshly squeezed lime juice for a refreshing super hydrating drink.
I like cucumbers in sandwiches and it’s a great way to sneak them in, other than a salad. But just the other day I made a salad for lunch with peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, figs and some cubed pepper jack cheese with a very light drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It was delicious and surprisingly filling. And I felt super healthy afterward. I cut the cucumbers in half moons, diced the peaches, tomatoes and cheese, and quartered the figs. It was a really pretty mix of colors. This week I’m sharing the link to Martha Stewart Melon, Mint and Cucumber Smoothie, in case you need a little more flavor than my cucumber lime drink. In this recipe she uses Honeydew melons and the color of the smoothie is so pretty and tranquil. It’s a great way to enjoy the healing powers of cucumber and melon. Enjoy!