I am giddy over the sight of anything growing in the garden. As a first-timer, I wasn't sure that I would actually end up with vegetables after all my efforts and I was a bit intimidated by the fact that each type would require unique care to bear delicious fruit. Through this process I'm learning to accept that some of the veggies will make it and maybe some won't. Space needs don't really become apparent until they've grown and pesky bugs will most likely try to have a meal of their own if you're not watchful or prepared.
Before starting this garden, I learned vicariously through my friend Erica's garden last year that cucumbers are plentiful and grow voraciously. So I started a small planting with a tall trellis. It has taken well to it and last week I noticed a sizeable cucumber hiding behind one of the leaves. Why hello! :)... but I needed to still wait a bit longer. For the best flavor and texture, it's suggested that cucumbers should be harvested when they get somewhere between 5-9." If they are left on the vine too long, they become more course and less juicy, and taste something like the bottom of a slice of watermelon.
So to be safe, I waited until today to harvest the first one at 7" :)
I could not be more excited to incorporate my first harvest into a meal today! Of course I went in to tell Eric the great news. By his response, clearly he didn't understand the importance of this occasion! It could also be that for some reason, he's never enjoyed eating cucumbers. But even so...I learned that there is one small ingredient that can make all the difference. I made sure to include it in the cucumber basil side salad that I prepared for us. Here's how I pulled the salad together quickly...
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1 - Peel and dice the cucumber.
2 - Select 5-7 medium sizes leaves of basil and chiffonade into fine shreds. Set aside.
3 - Dice 2-3 slices of onion and toss into the bowl of cucumber. Add drizzles of olive oil, / light drizzle of white wine vinegar or squeeze a small wedge of lemon / *secret ingredient* is a pinch of cane sugar. While I am not a big fan of sugar in general, in this instance it really "softens" the taste and balances against the sour flavors. You can't tell and it doesn't actually taste sweet, but it makes a big difference. / small piece of crushed fresh garlic / salt + crushed pepper to taste
4 - Dress the basil on top or mix it in evenly. Your choice!
Cucumber Basil Salad
So what was Eric's response?
"It actually tastes pretty refreshing and balanced" - HA! so it IS possible for this cucumber-hater to somewhat enjoy them? I'll take that as a victory!
Although you'll find that I tend to be a bit organic in my recipe measurements, this type of dish really is the kind that should reflect your unique tastes and preferences. If you're nuts for garlic, then go for it, use more than I've suggested. Here's a few more ideas to adapt this salad to the dish(es) you're making. Go ahead and make it your own!
If you're making Mediterranean...
Use olive oil / basil / yellow onion / lemon / black pepper
If you're making Mexican...
Use olive oil / cilantro / red onion / lime / jalapenos
If you're making Asian...
Use sesame oil / cilantro / scallions / rice vinegar / thai peppers
• • • LESSONS LEARNED #22 • • •
Timing is everything.
Don't leave a cucumber hanging.
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