Ingredients & Fine Foods

58 Ways to Use Cucumbers

The summertime often means a glut of cucumbers, or at least it does for me and my weekly vegetable basket. If you are in the same cucumber boat and in a bit of a rut with them, I have compiled this list of recipes and ideas for you and me to draw from.

As always with these lists, I am grateful to my inspired readers on Twitter and Facebook who contributed their own favorites!

Choose smaller cucumbers, smooth and evenly colored, that feel firm throughout — when they get older, they go soft at the tips so that’s a good thing to check. I find that the varieties I get from my grower or from the organic store don’t have a hint of bitterness, so I always keep the peel on, but that’s up to you — peeling in alternate stripes is a pretty compromise.

And if the varieties you have access to are indeed bitter, some people recommend cutting off the stem end of the cucumber and rubbing the cut surfaces together vigorously until a slimy froth comes out: wipe it away and, supposedly, all bitterness is gone.

Cucumber pairings

- Cucumber + tomato
- Cucumber + feta cheese
- Cucumber + red onion
- Cucumber + vinegar
- Cucumber + herbs (esp. mint, dill, basil, chervil, chives, cilantro)
- Cucumber + garlic
- Cucumber + sesame
- Cucumber + seaweed
- Cucumber + yogurt or cream
- Cucumber + avocado
- Cucumber + fish and shellfish (esp. crab, tuna, and anchovies)

Cucumber salads

- Bite-size cucumbers and tomatoes with red onion and feta, sprinkled with balsamic vinegar.
- With baby spinach, strawberries, and cubed feta coated with Herbes de Provence.
- Panzanella (Italian bread salad).
- Peel and dice cucumbers about 2 cm (1/2 inch), add diced tomato, avocado and slivered red onion. Serve with fresh greens and a light dressing.
- Greek salad.
- Salade niçoise (though some say that’s out of the question).
- Tzaziki.
- Cucumbers and sour cream, the Polish version of tzatziki.
- Sweet and sour cucumbers with fresh dill.
- Thinly sliced with a lemony vinaigrette, sprinkled with poppy or sesame seeds.
- Thinly shaved slices of cucumber and red radish, with vinegar mixed with half a teaspoon of brown sugar and fresh red chilies.
- Toss with still-warm roasted fennel and a dressing made with mashed roasted garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and plenty of parsley.
- Ottolenghi’s cucumber salad with smashed garlic and ginger, or the one with chili, sugar, rapeseed oil and poppy seeds.
- Crab and cucumber salad.
- With lime and Tajin, Mexican-style.

Asian-style cucumber salads

- Thinly sliced or match-stick-sliced cucumbers with seaweed flakes, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and toasted sesame (pictured below).
- Chopped cucumbers tossed with shredded shiso leaves, pitted and chopped umeboshi (sour plums), and a dressing made with soy sauce and juice of a citrus like yuzu.
- Malay cucumber and pineapple salad, with vinegar, sugar, and chilies.
- Use a vegetable peeler to slice the cucumber into long ribbons, then toss lightly with a simple dressing of rice vinegar and neutral-flavored oil (3 to 1 or so), salt and pepper, and a dash of red pepper or garlic to give it a little kick. Prettier than the usual half-moons, and a great side for peppery or Asian-influenced grilled meats or fish.
- Spicy thai cucumber salad.
- Oi-sobagi, or spicy stuffed cucumber kimchi.
- Raita.
- Lebanese Fattoush salad

Cucumber Salad with Sesame and Seaweed

Cucumber Salad with Sesame and Seaweed

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70 Things To Do With Fresh Spinach

Fresh spinach is in season right now, and I got a huge bag of it from my favorite grower, so I’ve been looking for great ways to use it. I naturally turned to Twitter and Facebook to hear about your favorite spinach dishes, and I thought I’d share the master list. Thank you all for your inspired suggestions!

Spinach pairings

- Spinach + garlic
- Spinach + cheese (especially fresh goat cheese, feta, ricotta)
- Spinach + sesame
- Spinach + eggs
- Spinach + cream
- Spinach + pasta
- Spinach + mushrooms
- Spinach + potatoes
- Spinach + nutmeg
- Spinach + lentils
- Spinach + raisins
- Spinach + bacon
- Spinach + fish
- Spinach + anchovies
- Spinach + rice
- Spinach + lemon

Sautéed spinach

- Sautéed in butter
- Wilted in a pan with slivers of garlic (lots of it).
- Simply sauté with olive oil, sliced garlic and lemon juice.
- Spinaci alla romana, with pine nuts, garlic, and sultanas
- Toss in a hot skillet with garlic, olive oil, salt. Cover, remove from heat, wilt 5 min. Leftovers can be mixed into fromage blanc.
- Chop up spinach, sauté in sesame oil, and serve with quinoa or rice, and tofu baked with miso or soy sauce.
- Stir-fry quickly with garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, and a dash of soy sauce.
- Sautéed in a skillet with rice vinegar, a drizzle of sesame oil, toasted black sesame, and fresh ginger, Japanese-style.
- One-pot spinach and quinoa pilaf

Spinach in baked dishes

- Spinach quiche, with leeks and gruyère
- Spinach and potato quiche with feta cheese
- Spinach tart or pie, with fresh goat cheese or camembert
- In a phyllo pie with feta, à la spanakopita
- Torta pasqualina (Spinach and ricotta Easter pie)
- Spinach and ricotta lasagna
- Spinach pirojki
- Spinach börek

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263 Things To Do With Cinnamon, Part II

Continuing from 263 Things To Do With Cinnamon, Part I, here’s a whole new batch of ideas for savory dishes, all kinds of beverages, and non-food uses. Many thanks to all of you who contributed these wonderful ideas; I hope you find the list as inspiring as I do!

MEAT

- In Morroccan lamb stews, such as lamb and prune tagine, or lamb and apricot tagine, or lamb and sweet potato tagine
- In Indian curries, particularly in lamb vindaloo and chicken curry
- In lamb pilaf
- In lamb kebabs
- In sheikh al mehshi (stuffed eggplant)
- In Moroccan roast chicken, stuffed with couscous mixed with whole almonds, garlic, sultanas, butter and cinnamon, and smeared with paprika and olive oil. Once cooked, a sauce is made with the pan juices, lemon juice, tomato puree and honey. This can also be done with quails.
- Tomato-based chicken chili with cinnamon and cacao
- In chicken or pigeon pastilla
- Mix in equal parts with smoked paprika, and dust on chicken before roasting; alternatively, mince a clove or two of garlic and spread on the skin, then dust with cinnamon and coarse salt. Makes a delicious, beautiful coating, brown and savory.
- On jerk chicken
- In chicken noodle soup
- In turkey meatballs
- Add cinnamon and fresh ginger when cooking chicken broth
- In chili con carne, Cincinnati-style
- In moussaka
- In beef stew with root vegetables
- In homemade burek: spice up ground beef and chopped onions in a frying pan with salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Spread the meat very thinly between filo layers in a well-oiled oven dish, score the filo dough layers and soak with a mixture of sour cream and sparkling water. Bake in the oven.
- Add to meatloaf
- In Mexico’s national dish, chiles en nogada (poblano peppers stuffed with a mixture of sautéed ground beef and dried fruits, all covered in fresh walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds)
- In pastitsio
- Braised hare with chocolate sauce and pieces of cinnamon
- With venison
- In a marinade or rub for pork
- In soy sauce-braised pork knuckles or tongues
- Grilled pork ribs served with cinnamon stewed quinces
- Cinnamon spiced ribs
- Add cinnamon sticks when cooking pulled pork with Coca-Cola

VEGETARIAN

- Eggplants sautéed with a little soy sauce and some cinnamon
- In eggplant caviar
- In an eggplant, potato, and chickpea mole
- In sheik mahshi (Lebanese/Syrian dish of vegetarian stuffed eggplant)
- In imam bayildi (Turkish braised and stuffed eggplant)
- On roasted winter squash and sweet potatoes
- Add to unsweetened whipped cream floated on silken, buttery, savory pumpkin soup
- On roasted cabbage and roasted cauliflower
- With spinach, especially spinach lasagna
- On slow-roasted tomatoes
- In a butternut, carrot, and apple soup
- In a potimarron soup (red kuri squash; combine cinnamon with the onions as you cook them in oil)
- In carrot soup
- In a salad of carrots, orange segments, with a little bit of oil, orange juice, cilantro, salt, and cinnamon
- In paneer masala
- In vegan chilli
- In sodhi, a Srilankan coconut milk curry spiced with cinnamon sticks and fennel seeds
- In the batter for fried artichokes
- In kugel

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263 Things To Do With Cinnamon, Part I

There is nothing quite like cinnamon to get you in the holiday spirit. Whether it’s used as a subtle accent or a more assertive note, cinnamon adds a one-of-a-kind layer of warmth to many preparations, sweet or savory. It can boost the taste of other ingredients and deepen the overall flavor of dishes, sometimes acting as a barely recognizable, “secret” ingredient.

You collectively submitted such brilliant, inspired ideas for the Cinnamon Hill giveaway a few weeks ago that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compile this rich list of suggested uses for this wonderful, versatile spice.

I give it to you in two instalments. Ideas from the realm of sweets first; savory, beverage, and non-food uses will follow in Part II. Enjoy!

HAPPY PAIRINGS

Cinnamon + Apple
Cinnamon + Peach
Cinnamon + Plum
Cinnamon + Orange
Cinnamon + Blueberry
Cinnamon + Raisin
Cinnamon + Chocolate
Cinnamon + Chili
Cinnamon + Nutmeg
Cinnamon + Clove
Cinnamon + Cumin
Cinnamon + Chicken
Cinnamon + Lamb
Cinnamon + Bread
Cinnamon + Rice
Cinnamon + Butter
Cinnamon + Honey
Cinnamon + Winter squash
Cinnamon + Sweet potato
Cinnamon + Eggplant
Cinnamon + Carrot
Cinnamon + Tomato

SPRINKLE CINNAMON ON…

… a warm apple pie
rugelach
… a warm Portuguese pastel de nata or pastel de Belém
… waffles
… French toast, along with nutmeg
… a doughnut
… apple slices, along with salt
… poached or fresh fruit, especially apples and peaches
… flan

CAKES

- In pain d’épices, spice cake, or gingerbread
- In carrot cake
- In stollen
- In Amish bread
- In pear cake
- In a plain buttery cinnamon cake with swirls of the crushed spice throughout the cake
- In coffee cake, esp. cinnamon cream cheese coffeecake
- In banana bread
- In purple plum cake
- Grated over vegan pumpkin cake with dollops of coconut whipped cream
- In zucchini bread
- In blueberry breakfast cake
- In pumpkin bread

COOKIES

- In snickerdoodles
- In Christmas sablés
- In star-shaped Christmas cookies made out of almonds, egg whites and lots of cinnamon, iced with cinnamon flavored icing
- In baklava
- In pumpkin cookies
- In peperkakor cookies and speculaas
- In chestnut pecan biscotti, or chocolate almond biscotti, or cinnamon raisin walnut biscotti
- In Christmas biscotti, coupled with star anise, cardamom and nutmeg and orange zest
- In oatmeal cookies
- In honey cookies
- In cinnamon macaron shells
- Use a mix of cinnamon and sugar as a filling for puff pastry palmiers
- In cinnamon and olive oil sablés: cinnamon, sugar, flour and olive oil — awesome on plain vanilla ice cream

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45 Things To Do With Purslane

Have you ever cooked with purslane, or Portulaca oleracea as it is known to botanists? It is a succulent plant whose edible, delicious leaves are crunchy and slightly mucilaginous, with a tangy lemony and peppery flavor.

It is generally harvested from early June till the end of summer, and can either be foraged or purchased, usually from a farmers market or through a CSA share. The wild variety, which is actually considered a weed by many gardeners, is rampant and has pinkish stems (see picture above), while cultivated varieties tend to grow vertically and display greenish stems.

Purslane has been consumed since ancient times, and because it grows easily in hot and not too dry climates, it is represented in many cuisines of the world, from Greece to Mexico, and from Turkey to India by way of South Africa. (Here’s a handy list of its aliases in different languages.)

It is a bit of a nutritional powerhouse, offering remarkable amounts of minerals (most notably calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium), omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins (A, B, C), and antioxydants. It is thought to be an important component of the Cretan high-life-expectancy diet, and Michael Pollan has called it one of the two most nutritious plants on the planet in his In Defense of Food manifesto (the other is lamb’s quarters if you want to hunt for that too).

Although the stems are edible when still young (and can be pickled), cooks usually keep only the leaves and thin, spindly stems at the top, which are simply plucked from the central stem. The process is slow-going, but rewarding in the end. Because purslane grows so close to the earth, and especially if it is foraged*, it should be rinsed very well, in several baths of fresh water (I usually do three), with a bit of vinegar.

And once you have your bowlful of squeaky clean and vibrant little leaves, what do you do with them? Purslane is mostly eaten raw, but can also be cooked for a change of pace. I’ve gathered 45 inspiring suggestions for you — and hope you’ll add your own favorites in the comments section!

* Some people report that they find it growing from sidewalk cracks or in city parks, but I wouldn’t recommend foraging it from there.

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