Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Late Summer Salad, with Cucumbers, Kale, and Tomatoes

Greetings, all!  
How is your week going?  Truth be told, the first time I wrote that I typed "fall", but I couldn't bear to look at it and changed my mind. 
Things have been moving quickly around here!  Just last week it was hot, so when these two boys stopped by they needed watermelon popsicles.

I went to the Coralville farmer's market last week for a change of pace and picked up a bunch of very strange looking vegetables from a farmer who learned how to grow them from two Indian farmers.  I confess I don't know the names for them, but they are beautiful.  The long green thing is a bit like a zucchini, and the bumpy green things are bitter melon, but the one I love the most and can't wait to try again is the little yellow cucumber.   In fact, I think I'm going to grow it next year, if I can manage to save the seeds. (Gardening is awesome!)

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the lemon cucumber.  Google results for this beauty come up with articles titled "Weird Vegetables" and "It's New to Me"(the latter of which has an interesting comments section) but the facts are simple.  This is a baseball shaped cucumber with thick yellow skin.  The core of soft pulp and some seeds can easily be scraped out, and the flavor is much sweeter and less bitter than traditional cucumbers, thus it's also easier to digest.  While it isn't much grown in the US, it does well in the Midwest and is prolific and easy to grow.

I first used it in a simple quick pickle using thinly sliced shallots, local honey, white vinegar, water, salt, pepper, and fresh basil.  I left it in the fridge overnight, and it was a different take on the old school Midwestern cucumber, onion, and vinegar salad.  Like that salad, this one improves with age in the fridge and lasts for days.

Next I tried peeling it and using it with the best of the garden: thinly sliced kale, 5-10 small tomatoes, a handful of green beans, garlic, and basil.

If this is perfect dressed up with just a basic vinaigrette (vinegar, olive oil, a dollop of mustard, salt, and pepper) but we added some shredded Parmesan we had on hand.  It'd be far better with curls, but this hit the spot and combined the ingredients that are at their best right now.

We've also been grilling Missouri peaches with just honey and lime.

And we bought a picnic table!  And a fire pit!  It's like a second living room out there, and we're looking forward to enjoying it all season.

How are things around your homestead these days?


Karrey said...

I think our firepit is Kevin's favorite purchase of the year so far. We also picked up some solar yard lights at Menards last weekend that we love. I want a picnic table! But I want to build a pergola/overhang on our patio first. Priorities!

Alicia said...

Hey Karrey!
We finally buckled and bought a fire pit and tiki torches, too! The problem is we keep acting like it's the weekend and we're out camping. If I dropped by some homemade marshmallows, would you guys make use of them? We got the table at Lowes, and it was worth every penny to have an actual table back there. Cooking and hanging out is so much easier.

Karrey said...

I LOVE how much more like an actual living space it makes it when there are fun things on the patio. We've got torches, too, and it took us forever to locate some that weren't made in China. I think the ones we finally bought were made in Indonesia, which isn't much better than China, but it was as good as we could manage.

I really miss homemade marshmallows! Do you use Martha Stewart's recipe? It used to be my go-to until I went vegetarian, and our "brand" of veg is gelatin-free. I actually found a veg recipe that uses Xanthan gum. I should make some!

Anonymous said...

Lemon Cukes are suuuuuuper popular out here. I like to eat them like an apple.

Alicia Ambler said...

guest! where is "out here"? They were a first for me and I can't stop.
Karrey, I used some random recipe but am looking forward to messing around with veg marshmallows. We need to have a backyard party.

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