For much of my life I thought I didn’t like cucumbers. I loved sour pickles and crushed Sichuan-style cucumbers, but in most other settings — especially bad renditions of Greek salad — cucumbers struck me as watery, slippery filler, the honeydew of the savory salad world. (I stick with my aversion to honeydew.) Why dip a cucumber spear in dipping sauce when you could choose a carrot? Or a radish? Why?
But now I know the truth, which is that the cucumber is one of nature’s best coolants, a foil for both hot weather and the heat of Chile. The best dishes that use it bring its juicy crunch to the fore. And a bunch of cucumbers, lightly dressed or quickly pickled, is a quick, single salad that goes with many meals. (It helps if you use Persian or English cucumbers, which have thinner skins and don’t have the large sticky seeds you find in standard garden cucumbers.)
Below are two new cucumber recipes, and many more on New York Times Cooking; you see them here all summer. Because I know there are people out there who haven’t gone down the cucumber path yet — and I understand why — there are other recipes for the week as well.
1. Sesame Cucumber and Avocado Salad
This cooling salad from Hetty McKinnon can easily turn into a dinner party when served with rice, noodles, or just cooked chicken or tofu on the side. The avocados add a creaminess that contrasts with the crunch.
2. Greek Chicken With Cucumber-Feta Salad
Ali Slagle took the flavors of a chicken souvlaki dish, including the salad and tzatziki, and incorporated them into one recipe you can make at home after work. if you love horiatik — the traditional Greek salad, on which the American diner-style version is based — then you already know that feta and cucumber make an excellent pair.
3. Halloumi With Corn, Cherry Tomatoes And Basil
This Melissa Clark recipe is a one-pansode to summer, and I thought of it when I saw fresh corn at the store and wanted to make a dinner out of it. I added farro to make it a meal, and honestly I don’t think you need to halve the cherry tomatoes; just cook them a little longer. But that’s me. Swapping halloumi for firm tofu would make it vegan.
4. Pasta With Green Beans And Almond Gremolata
This easy pasta dish from Colu Henry is great for kids – or really anyone who likes a simple pasta dish in the summer (me). The gremolata goes up a notch, but you can skip it if you want to keep it approachable.