Our garden has been horrendously neglected this summer. I guess that statement comes with the assumption that a garden is something that must be done, and it certainly is not; it’s extracurricular. I started this year’s garden out of fondness for spending time outdoors and watching things grow. It is a wonder to watch something grow from seed. Shortly after the seedlings began shouldering their way through the dirt, we started our addition on the house. And as the addition took shape, we tackled redoing the siding on the garden-side of the house. The last thing on anyone’s mind while moving a 15-foot ladder around and hammering siding in the scorching sun is whether or not the corn seedlings are getting squashed. Needless to say, I had no hopes of our garden producing much when I saw the trampled plants. So I kind of didn’t waste my time watering or weeding the garden after that. And the cucumbers are freaking out. It’s like they love it. We have cucumbers larger than the ones in grocery stores and the few plants that survived are producing like crazy. We’ve probably produced 50 cucumbers this summer. For the month of July, I had a cucumber drawer in my fridge. A cucumber drawer…
So for all my other gardeners out there or cucumber aficionados, here is what you do with so many cucumbers.
There are two ways to do a cucumber smoothie: 1) Sneak that sucker in there and after your kids down the smoothie, be like, “HA! You ate a vegetable!” 2) Focus the smoothie around the cucumber in a, “oh, cucumbers are so delicious” sort of way.
Method 1: Peel a small cucumber and slice it into large chunks (easier to blend). Add the cucumber chunks to a 50/50 mix of juice and water and some frozen fruit (a mix if peaches and strawberries in the smoothie pictured above). Blend and enjoy! If you don’t have frozen fruit, use fresh and add some ice cubes. You may want to forego the water if you go that route.
If you like measurements, a single smoothie is something like: 1/2 large cucumber, 1/2 cup juice, 1 cup frozen fruit, 1/4 cup water.
Method 2: Again, peel and slice the cucumber. Add cucumber slices to the juice of one lime, a tablespoon of simple syrup (easy to make, don’t be afraid), some ice, and a little water to fill out the rest of the smoothie. This sucker is like magic, healthy limeade. It is a dream come true. If you’re feeling real hip and fancy, add a pinch of lavender to the the mix.
Whether you have a pitcher, individual glasses, or a neat dispenser like this guy, cucumber water is a nice touch. I always forget to have this for myself, but at parties this is such a practical and affordable drink option! If you want embolden this drink, add some mint sprigs to it as well.
Ok, this recipe might sound familiar, because it’s a sweeter, stronger version of the cucumber limeade smoothie above. It’s so delicious. If lemon sorbet and limeade ring your bell, then make these:
To make a batch of 6 (small) popsicles, blend a small cucumber, 1/3 cup simple syrup, juice from 3 limes, and 3/4 cup water. Pour into molds and quickly freeze (to help prevent separating). These guys are my nap time treat.
If breakfast, water, and desert weren’t enough, here is our cucumber side! Ha, but really. Growing up with Greek friends taught me that summer = cucumber salad. It’s simple, peel and slice cucumbers and toss with fresh, sliced tomatoes and your favorite toppings. I like my cucumber-tomato ratio to be cucumber heavy. 50/50 is too much tomato for me, but to each his own. This one has banana peppers, feta, dried oregano, fresh basil, and salt and pepper. I didn’t add a dressing, but you totally can. This also makes a great relish (cut smaller, though) if you want to top some grilled chicken with it and wrap that bad boy in a pita.
I am afraid of canning. I haven’t tried it because there’s some equipment involved that I don’t have and the prospect of keeping something sanitized scares me. I feel like I’m going to contaminate a jar and open it a year later to a terrifying surprise. Anyway, quick pickles are not the kind you keep for months or years, because you don’t actually can them. They’re just an easy way to make homemade pickles to have in the fridge for a few weeks. They are delicious! The recipe is simple.
Over medium-high heat, bring 1 cup white vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, salt, chopped garlic, and whatever seasoning you like to a boil. Simmer until the sugar is disolved. Pour over a mason jar of cucumber slices (1-2 cucumbers) and add fresh herbs (like dill). Once the jar has reached room temperature, move to the fridge and enjoy on sandwiches, burgers, or all by its delicious self. I loved adding red pepper flakes to my pickles for a little heat. So good!
So what about you? What did you make with cucumbers this year? Anyone else kind of SO EXCITED that summer is on its way out? Ha. Alabama summers, you’re so freakin muggy. Just cannot wait for fall. I know, I know. Pinterest is about to implode and blah blah blah. Don’t care. Give me a PSL.