Pumpkin is the queen of summer dishes. We are full of ideas from the Mediterranean basin and the Indian Ocean.
Poor Kendall Jenner! This weekend, the supermodel reality TV star was the laughing stock of the web after airing a sequence that shows her awkwardly cutting a cucumber. However, this great moment of culinary solitude should invite us to humility. Of course, not knowing how to handle a knife is one thing, not knowing how to cook this pumpkin is another. However, let’s be honest: aside flavored water, compose a Greek salad or – the height of audacity – prepare a tzatziki, which really uses cucumber as a stand-alone ingredient in a recipe worthy of the name?
Indeed, we should use this word in the plural given the number of varieties. Each has its own specificity that directs us towards a recipe. Therefore, a rare old variety like lemon cucumber (also called Old Russian cucumber or lemon cucumber in English) does not lend itself to cooking. The delicacy of the pulp and the taste are ideal for a salad whose originality lies mainly in the shape and color of this yellow fruit, round like a tennis ball. A pinch of fleur de sel and a drizzle of high quality olive oil will be enough to sublimate it. In terms of cooking, we all have the same sexiest known …
From aperitif to appetizer
To find originality, which in this case does not necessarily rhymes with complexity, you have to travel. We touched on Greek cuisine that blends Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures (see the post above by British-Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi). To stay with this spirit, you can make a bruschetta whose bread rubbed with garlic will be crowned with fresh cheese, balsamic vinegar, strips or spirals of cucumber from the garden, melon balls, chopped aromatic herbs (mint, chives) and possibly a touch of liquid honey.
Another simple tip: a generous cucumber pie, a smaller variety with no bitterness, or marketmore, a classic zucchini-sized variety. Since these fruits are soft, goat or sheep cheese will add a boost. Pay attention to the cooking time and the water released by the plants.
The seedless Lebanese cucumber is small, very sweet and crunchy. It lends itself to the grill. To begin with: we cut it lengthwise. The slices are grilled back and forth to mark the diagonals and give flavor. They are placed on a plate where a soft bed awaits them: a mixture of Greek yogurt, feta, mayonnaise, candied garlic, lemon zest. Sprinkle everything with thin slices of radish soaked in maple syrup.
A second oriental dish
Don’t hesitate to travel a little further to the East and immerse yourself in the gastronomic traditions of the Indian Ocean. First idea: a cucumber curry as it is prepared for the meeting. In a cast iron saucepan or in a creole cast iron pot, fry the onions in neutral oil then add our star ingredient with the peel, cut into cubes, to which we add the classic Reunionese such as garlic, thyme, black pepper, turmeric ( known as saffron péi on the island). The tomato is not necessary because it would release too much juice.
Another island, another atmosphere. Sri Lanka offers a richer standard curry than the previous one: coconut milk, grated coconut, chopped shallot, curry leaves, green chili and, of course, turmeric. For this interpretation, we peel the cucumber. Again, you need to watch the cooking. Over a quarter of an hour there is the risk of getting a soup, hence the importance of using a firm variety in cooking. In the two vegetarian cases described above, meat or fish can be added. They are served with rice.