Baked Cucumbers with Pink Turnips Recipe

If Julia Child hadn’t died in her California retirement home in 2004, she would have turned one hundred this August. Learning this made me realize that she was just a few months younger than my own grandmother, who turned a century old last fall, and passed away in the spring.

Looking at Child’s biography, it seems the two lived in Paris during some of the same years, and because my grandmother was also an avid cook, I like to imagine their paths crossing at one point or another, over some market stall or perhaps browsing the shelves at G.Detou.

Although I own Julia Child’s monumental Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I’ve only ever used it as a reference book, but I credit her for introducing me to the idea of baked cucumbers.

In my mind before then, cucumbers were firmly entrenched in crudité territory, their quenching crunch typically enjoyed in sticks with an appetizer dip, in slices for a Japanese-inspired salad, or grated for tzatziki. I was therefore intrigued by Child’s recipe for concombres au beurre, a preparation I’d never heard of before.

In it, she peels the cucumbers and cuts them into sticks, tosses them with salt, sugar, and vinegar, leaves them to rest awhile to draw out the excess moisture, then bakes them with butter, scallions, and herbs. (You can read the detailed process here.)

I confess I never followed the recipe exactly, but I took the concept and ran with it, tinkering with the measurements a bit, substituting olive oil for the butter, holding the herbs until the moment of serving, and baking the cucumbers along with the small pink turnips I get this time of year (see below).

The result is absolutely lovely, and has made frequent appearances on our table over the summer: cucumbers take on a surprisingly silky, tender texture when baked, and the subtle bitterness of the turnips is an ideal match to their sweetness.

What about you, do you have any cooked cucumber experience to share? Or unusual ways to prepare the cucurbitaceae ?

Cucumber and pink turnips

Cucumber and pink turnips

Baked Cucumbers with Pink Turnips Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Serves 4.

Baked Cucumbers with Pink Turnips Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 large English cucumbers, about 35 cm (14") in length each
  • 8 small pink turnips, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cider or rice vinegar
  • olive oil for cooking
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh dill, roughly chopped, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel the cucumbers in alternating stripes. Slice in two along their length, and use a teaspoon to scrape out the seedy core in the middle (I save these in a bowl and eat them with a spoon, sprinkled with a hefty dose of gomasio). Cut each half in 3 or 4 lengthwise strips, then in crosswise pieces, about 4 cm (1 1/2") in length.
  2. Put the cucumber in a bowl with 1 teaspoon salt, and toss to combine. Let rest for 30 minutes to allow for the excess juices to drain out (don't skip this or the baked cucumbers will be mushy). Transfer the cucumber pieces to a clean dish towel, leaving the juices at the bottom of the bowl, and pat to dry.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
  4. In a medium baking dish, combine the cucumbers and turnips. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt along with the sugar, vinegar, and a good drizzle of olive oil. Toss to coat.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned in places. Sprinkle with black pepper, top with the dill, if using, and serve warm. Any leftovers can be eaten cold the next day.
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  • http://www.foodgoat.com ladygoat

    That is just the recipe I needed today! I’ve been getting so many cucumbers, but the weather starting to cool down and there is only so much cucumber salad and pickles I can take. Baked cucumbers sound delicious!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I agree, at some point, the cucumber salad just loses its appeal and you’re ready for something different. :)

  • Joy

    Cooked cucumber is almost like a staple when I were a kid, stir fried it with sliced garlic and slivered meat, drowning in a pot of soup(added into sayur asem or in chinese beef ball soup), steamed stuffed cucumber and some other kind of Chinese food that somehow slipped from my scattered brain at the moment. But this is the first time I heard that cucumber also can be baked! It sounds interesting I shall try it when the weather a bit cooler(I live in the tropics so cucumber is available all the time)

  • http://www.strayedtable.com lizzie – strayed from the table

    We make a lot of Chinese stir fries with cucumber. They go slightly slimy but they are so tasty. I have to say I do love them pickled with a tahini style sauce. YUM

  • Barbara

    My favourite: gently baked cucumber sticks with crème fraîche, green herbs and shrimps. Serve with cooked potatoes or heavy bread, mmmm!

  • msue

    How cool – I’ve been musing about baked cucumbers lately, and now here is a recipe! One question about the turnips: I’m not sure I’ll find small pink turnips in my market, so I’ll probably need to substitute with whatever turnips are there. Can you estimate the volume or weight the turnips in your recipe would be, or perhaps indicate what the comparative amounts of cucumber vs. turnip is? By the photo, I’m guessing the ratio is 2:1 favoring cucumbers, but it is just a guess.

    I can’t wait to try these! Probably tonight :)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      This is a very flexible recipe, so the amounts depend on what you have on hand, but a 2 to 1 ratio is about what I used here. More important is the balance of flavor: if your turnips are on the bitter side, use fewer; if they’re nice and sweet, use more!

      • msue

        Thanks for the extra info! These were a scrumptious addition to our dinner tonight. I was surprised at how much we really liked them. The cooked cucumbers were similar in texture to cooked zucchini, and the mild flavor reminded us of zucchini too. This could easily be a year-round side dish. FYI, one ‘medium’ turnip in our market weighed about 352g, appx. 12 1/4 oz. The size of turnips likely depends on the variety, the time of year, how long the turnips were allowed to grow, and whatever the suppliers bring to the market that day. Baby turnips are sometimes available, but were not in the store when I shopped. I can’t wait until our local farmers market opens next weekend – some wonderful growers always are there, which will be a good opportunity to learn what is normally available. Thanks again for a terrific recipe!

  • bao-kim

    Dear Clotilde,

    This is off subject, but I did not know who to ask, please help! I am planning to go to Salon du Chocolat this October, since I found out about it from your Blog:). I know I can purchase the tickets online, but I will only get a printed back/ white copy of the tickets. I have seen postcard type of tickets or something that looks like a hard colored copy with the picture of Salon du Chocolat on it. How do I get one of this card? I would like so much to have one to add to my album for souvenir. I would appreciate any advice you could give me, thank you so very much Clotilde! Really enjoyed and learned so much from your Blog and your books, this is my first time commenting:)

  • SL

    I’ve often cooked cucumber in soup and cooked cucumber in broth is light and absolutely delicious. My mom often pickes cucumber using a light, sweet vinegar (like rice vinegar) and it is gorgeous!

  • http://www.parsleyandpumpkins.wordpress.com Kelly Turnbull

    Hi Clotilde,
    This s a wonderful idea. Thank you!

  • http://www.slonerangerblog.com Christine

    How cool that your grandmother may have brushed by Julia Child in the market! It is such a small world…

  • http://www.omeletta.me Ruthy

    I’ve always wondered what this recipe tasted like! It’s definitely one I’ve breezed by in the past because I couldn’t fathom baked cucumbers. That crazy Julia- inspiring all the different things! Thanks for posting, can’t wait to try! :)

  • JC

    In the 1990s my mother attended a formal dinner at Rutgers University at which Julia Child was present, and was seated right next to her! I will always be jealous of that.

    I’ve never baked cucumbers but often use them in sautées and stir fries. This more elegant preparation you’ve shown sounds wonderful. I’ve since cooked lettuce as well when there is an overabundance… grilled or in soups.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Wow, just one degree of separation between you and Julia then, that’s so cool! Do you know what they talked about?

  • Aude

    Sounds great !! I’ll try it this week.
    As others, I had cucumber soup & it’s quite good to.

  • Judi

    First time I ever cooked cucumber was as a doria garnish for fish, given by Jane Grigson in her Vegetable Book. Delicious. (I can’t find my copy right now but there are recipes online.)

  • berkeley girl

    Great recipe! I had to bake a little longer, about 40 min. Instead of dill & pepper, I used a South Asian spice mix known as fruit chaat masala, often used with fruit and uncooked cucumbers. Really brought out the sweetness of the cucumbers.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for reporting back, that spice mix sounds great!

  • http://www.sweetandsavoring.com Christy

    Just when I think I’ve heard it all- baked cucumbers, wow!

    Until recently I’ve only had a passing interest in Julia Child- but I love watching old videos of her, and she’s got some pretty choice quotations I like to use. Mastering the Art of French Cooking is next on my list of cookbooks to buy :)

    Thanks for another great post!

  • Maggie

    I’ve had cucumbers in osuimono with noodles. I put them in after cooking the noodles and let the soup “marinate” for 10 minutes. Very delicate flavour, but so good.

  • http://www.thepigandquill.com Emily

    I’m so glad to see you posting about these little guys! I recall reading about cooked cucumbers when I first read Julie & Julia a few years ago. Julie expresses her hesitance to cook a veggie we so often associate with eating raw (and, moreover, chilled). I loved learning then that cukes are tasty when cooked — and your post has sealed the deal: baked cucumbers for supper tomorrow!

  • http://www.buyeveaccounts.com shane

    yum! yum! and this is healthy too.

  • http://aldentechef.blogspot.com Al Dente Chef

    I saw that movie Julie & Julia on television the other day.

  • http://travelbystove.blogspot.com Becki Robins

    It has never even occurred to me to cook cucumber, and I thought I’d thought of everything. :-) Can’t wait to try this. I wonder if I could get my kids to partake …

  • http://0liviaschoice.blogspot.com Olivia Wells

    Hi Clotilde, I just discovered your blog and I’m loving it! Thanks for sharing!

    xx Olivia

  • Kiri

    Another great way to enjoy cooked cucumber is in the Korean dish called bibimbap. It is stir fried with other vegetables such as carrot, shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts, served with egg, spinach and Korean hot sauce. (and meat if not cegetarian.) Delicious simple one bowl meal. :)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I heart bibimbap and have been meaning to try making it at home. Thanks for the reminder!

      • Kiri

        My husband and I quite enjoyed the result of my tweaking of a combination of these two versions of bibimbap from Martha Stewart and Bill Granger respectively:

        See what you think… :)

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

          Thanks so much! I’ll give them a try sometime.

  • http://motherrimmy.com Kristi Rimkus

    I would never have thought to bake cucumbers. As you say, they’ve always been left to salads and veggies with dip. Still, this is very intriguing and they look fantastic, so I’m curious enough to give this a try!

  • http://www.parken-und-fliegen.de/ Stevie Davis

    I have tried before stuffed roasted cucumber topped with cheese which was quite unexpectedly delicious, so I will have to give this version a go now I have gotten over the ‘awkwardness’ of cooked cucumber

  • David

    I just found this article. For years, I’ve been sauteing cucumbers in butter and/or olive oil. I just felt like experimenting one day and it worked out very well.

    I peel them and cut them into half inch sections. Or, once in a while, I cut them in half, cut out the seeds, and then cut them into pieces. Sprinkled with a little fresh dill and salt, they go great with chicken or fish.

  • http://reggiesblogspotrantings.blogspot.com/ Reggie

    Baked cucumbers huh?!? Never tried it, but it does sound like it would be quite good.

  • janani

    The baked cucumbers were lovely! However, the local turnips were not!I couldnt get small pink turnips in Bangalore, so decided to chance the pink and cream large ones. Any suggestions on a replacement veg? many thanks – love your blog!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks, Janani! You could use radishes in place of the turnips, if those are available, or just use cucumbers on their own.

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