Minty Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad

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I, like most other people I know, love a juicy summer watermelon. It is just so refreshing and delicious! I remember that my grandfather always used to (and probably still does) put salt on his watermelon, which I thought was absolutely crazy. I thought that salt would ruin the sweet taste. Through the years, I’ve come to realize that a lot of people like salty touch with their watermelon. If so many people like salted watermelon, there’s got to be something to it right? And then I realized that the salty watermelon thing was taken to the next step with feta and watermelon salads. This combination is all over Pinterest and summer restaurant menus. And logically, I understand that salt balances sweet and brings out brighter flavors. Yet for some reason, I still never tried it. Well that mistake is over. I didn’t know what I was missing.

The watermelon is still the star of this salad, but it doesn’t taste like just a fruit salad with some feta on top. It’s a little more savory than expected. The mint flavor is strong and makes it nice and herbaceous. Don’t worry about the vinegar on the cucumbers either – it’s not overwhelming at all. Overall a great salad for summer! 😎

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Minty Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad

Ingredients:
  • 1 cucumber
  • ~1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 5 cups watermelon, chopped
  • 3/4 cups feta cheese, diced
  • ~10 leaves fresh mint, chopped
  • Black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Peel the cucumber, then slice it length-wise. Scoop out the seeds. Slice into half-moons.
  2. Marinate the cucumbers in the white wine vinegar, topped with a few turns of fresh ground black pepper, for at least an hour.
  3. Chop the watermelon into bite-sized chunks. Chop the feta a little smaller, more of a dice (can you dice something that’s not a vegetable??). Tear or chop the mint leaves. Combine all of these in a large bowl.
  4. Drain the vinegar from the cucumbers. Add the cucumbers in with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
  5. Add a little more black pepper to taste.
  6. Best served immediately.
Serves 6-8

Midnight Quick Pickles

Every time we visit my cousin and her husband, we always come home with more than when we arrived. They live in a more rural county, have a HUGE backyard garden, and freezers full of hunting spoils. We were there this past weekend to visit with them and their brand new baby 😍😍😍 We cooked dinner for the new parents, so we brought a fair amount of ingredients with us. But still, our bag was more full when we went home! They sent us home with a bounty of cucumbers and squash from the garden, three whole trout, and a package of venison sausage links from last hunting season! Even a cucumber lover like me can’t eat all those cucumbers before they go bad, so I made some pickles!

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If you take a quick glance at this recipe, you’re probably thinking that it’s a pretty standard dill pickle recipe. Vinegar, water, sugar, dill, garlic… they’re standard fair for dill pickles. Why then do ours look dark and why did we call them “midnight” pickles? For that, we have to thank Selim’s devotion to turbinado sugar, which turns liquid darker when dissolved, as compared to refined white sugar.

As we’ve mentioned with previous recipes (see: Red Quick Pickled Cauliflower and Radishes), these are not shelf-safe “real” pickles. They should not be left in pantry or cellar for eternity. They must stay refrigerated. Hence they’re called “quick pickles” or “refrigerator pickles.” We skipped the step of sterilizing the jar and lid that keeps you from getting botulism when canned goods are left on a shelf for months on end.

This recipes follows a 2 part vinegar / 1 part water / 1 part sugar pickling ratio by which we usually abide. Using that ratio, pickles can be infinitely adjusted for more or less produce, different vinegars, alternate sugars, and a variety of herbs & spices!

Midnight Quick Pickles

Ingredients:
  • 5-6 small pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp dill
Instructions:
  1. Slice the cucumbers and place in a large mason jar or similar.
  2. Bring the remaining ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan. Stir and simmer until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat. Leave sitting out or refrigerate until cool.
  4. Pour cool pickling liquid over the sliced cucumbers.
  5. Refrigerate for several days. (They’re edible essentially immediately, but will have more flavor if you leave them be for 48+ hours.)

Citrus Chili Cucumbers

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I love cucumbers, but I basically eat them the same two ways over and over. (See: Fresh Avocado & Cucumber Salad & Mama Z’s Cucumbers) I’ve had this cucumber recipe pinned for literally years, but have never made it. It’s been pinned more than 119,000 times! Apparently everyone likes a nice cucumber… I’m glad I finally tried them. These cucumbers are different from my go-tos, which makes it a nice change. I usually don’t think light and fresh cucumbers need something like oil topping them, but it works well here.

Citrus Chili Cucumbers

(Adapted from Our Life in a Click blog, via Pinterest)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients minus the cucumbers themselves.
  2. Pour liquid over top of the cucumbers.
  3. Eat! Marvel at how easy it was to make this delicious snack.

Mama Z’s Cucumbers

Update 7/1/17: Soooo… turns out my memory was faulty. After talking with Jon and our other friend/my old roommate Terry, we think I mentally combined Mama Z’s recipe and Terry’s. Too lazy to change the title and the whole post, so we’ll just pretend – but give a quick shout to Terry and my muddled brain as well! 

There are some recipes that are so simple, I feel like you can barely call them “recipes.” These cucumbers fit that bill. I have to share them though, because they’re so easy to make and delicious – I’d hate to hold out on the precisely 17 people who follow this blog and are probably desperately wondering how I like to eat my cucumbers 😂😂

My friend Jon taught me how to make these cucumbers years ago, and I’ve been addicted ever since. He learned this quick snack from his mother. I’m pretty sure I still make them they way I was taught… but it was awhile ago. Hopefully so, otherwise I guess I’ll have to change the title of this post🤞🏼🤞🏼 These cucumbers will just take you a minute or two to make and are perfect for lunches or a light snack. Even better, just adjust the proportions for as many cucumbers as you want!

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Mama Z’s Cucumbers

(Recipe from my friend Jon’s mom!)
Ingredients: 
  • Cucumbers
  • Equal parts:
    • Low sodium soy sauce
    • Rice wine vinegar
  • Sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes
Instructions: 
  1. Slice your cucumbers.
  2. Mix together equal parts of soy sauce & rice wine vinegar. [ie: 1 tbsp soy sauce + 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar; 1/4 cup soy sauce + 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar; etc]
  3. Combine the cucumbers with the liquid and place in a dish you can cover and refrigerate.
  4. Top with a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper flakes (as little or as much as you like in terms of spiciness).
  5. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before snacking.

Fresh Avocado & Cucumber Salad

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Awhile back I shared one of my favorite lunches, this Couscous Salad. It’s pretty easy to make, pretty healthy, and pretty delicious. In that post, I talked about how I find lunch very uninspiring. I still do. I love going out to lunch though… why is it that a sandwich, soup, or salad at a restaurant is so much better than the exact same dish you made at home? Is that just me??

Maybe it’s because I don’t eat a wide variety of lunches. There’s only so many things that are portable and easily eaten on a brief lunch break. This salad is one of my go-tos. It takes about 5 minutes to make, so you can throw it together the night before. It’s healthy, with very simple ingredients. And since the whole avocado is in there, it’s filling enough to last you through the afternoon.

I like to use the small pickling cucumbers in this salad because I don’t think they leech as much water and stay more crisp in the fridge. You obviously can use a regular cucumber if you’d like. I usually make a double or triple batch at eat it all week. I kept this recipe small, because when it sits in the fridge for a day or two, the avocado gets brown and less pretty. I don’t mind this because it still tastes good despite its appearance, but I don’t want you people to make a big batch and be sad a few days later.

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Fresh Avocado & Cucumber Salad

Ingredients: 
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 pickling cucumbers
  • Juice from ~2/3s of a lime
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 turns of fresh ground black pepper
  • A pinch or two of Kosher salt, to taste
Instructions:
  1. Slice the cucumbers and cut the avocado into chunks.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Refrigerate until serving.

Cucumbers in Peanut Sauce

April 2017 Update: I think about this recipe from time to time, and in all honesty y’all, I’m not sure I can recommend it as posted. The sauce is delicious, but I think it’s just too overwhelming for cucumbers by themselves. One time I combined the cucumber and sauce with some rice noodles and that was much better. One of these days, I’ll whip up a more cohesive dish using this sauce and share that. Standby ’til then! Or if you want, give it a whirl and tell me what you think – how would you improve it??

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There’s a recipe in the family cookbook I’ve been eyeing for a few weeks now. I love cucumbers and eat them as a snack all the time. I mostly toss them in vinegar or something similarly light. But since I’m always looking for a new recipe or a way to change things up, I thought this recipe for cucumbers with peanut sauce would be a nice change of pace. The only problem? Occasionally in our family recipe book, my mom/ aunts/ grandmothers forgot that we can’t read their minds when they were writing out their recipes. This was one of those recipes. It called for things like “the worcestershire sauce” to top “the cucumbers,” instead of actual amounts.  So I guessed a little bit.

I think it turned out pretty well. I really like the peanut sauce. I will say though… I think it’s a little heavy for the cucumbers. Maybe it’s because, as I mentioned, I usually eat cucumbers without a whole lot on top. But maybe that’s just me. And the peanut sauce is worth repeating – I just may put it on top of something a little more substantial next time.

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Cucumbers in Peanut Sauce

Recipe adapted from my family recipe-book
Ingredients: 
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
Instructions: 
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together white wine vinegar, brown sugar, and crushed red pepper. Add the sliced cucumbers to the bowl and refrigerate while preparing the peanut sauce.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a small pan.
  3. Once oil is hot, add garlic. Flash fry for just 1 minute, then turn the heat down to low.
  4. Once oil has cooled some, stir in the peanut butter. Stir continuously until oil and peanut butter are well combined.
  5. Now lower heat even further, so burner is barely on. Stir in remaining three ingredients.
  6. Leave on very low heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove cucumbers from their bowl, leaving the liquid behind. Whisk together the peanut sauce and vinegar mixture.
  8. Return the cucumbers to the bowl. Refrigerate until cool before serving.

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Roasted Garlic & Cucumber Raita

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For those who don’t know, raita is a very versatile Indian yogurt dip/sauce. A dollop on top of spicy hot dishes cools them right off. Naan dipped in raita makes delicious naan even better. I say versatile because raita basically is a blank canvas that can be modified in a million different ways. You start with plain yogurt and go from there. Herbs and spices, vegetables, even fruits, can be used to make unique raita! For those looking for a maybe more familiar comparison, cucumber-based raita is popular and very similar to Greek tzatziki. That’s what I was going for today for this recipe and then was inspired by this delicious-looking recipe too!

Roasted Garlic & Cucumber Raita

Ingredients: RoastedGarlic
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 large pickling cucumbers
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt – divided
  • 10 turns of pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, slice the top off of the head of garlic (so tips of individual cloves are exposed).
  2. Drizzle the oil over the exposed parts of the garlic head. Wrap the garlic head in aluminum foil and place in the oven on a middle rack. Enjoy the amazing smell of roasting garlic.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the cucumbers. I spiralized about half of the cucumbers and grated the other half, because I like different textures.
  5. Set the cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt. This will draw water out of the cucumbers. Allow them to sit there for at least 20 minutes. You can squeeze them too to get even more of the water out.
  6. Remove the garlic from the oven when it’s done and allow the garlic to cool until you can handle it.
  7. Pull apart the individual cloves and squeeze the garlic out of its skin into a small bowl. After you’ve squeezed all of the cloves out, then use the back of a fork to mash the more intact cloves up.
  8. Add the garlic, cucumbers, the rest of the salt, and pepper to the yogurt. Mix everything together.
  9. Serve with Indian food, on a wrap, as a dip for crudites or pita chips, or whatever you want!

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