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Cool cucumbers
 
It’s been a great season for cucumbers this year and as we’ve had gluts of them, they’ve been a staple in our lunch box salads every day for the past month.
 
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, cucumber cleanses and detoxifies, it helps reduce high blood pressure, and, with its “cooling” element, also eases the internal heat of the body. 
 
So here are a few creative ideas to use up the last of the cucumbers hanging on your vines over the next month or so.
 
 
Quinoa Tabouleh
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 1/3 cup virgin olive oil
  • 2 - 3 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 spring onion or ¼ onion, finely minced
  • ½ tsp Himalayan salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
 
Method:
  1. Soak the quinoa for at least 15 minutes, then rinse and drain 3 times until the water is clear.
  2. Put the quinoa into a saucepan with the 1 ¼ cups water and ½ tsp salt. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork and leave it to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper until amalgamated, then stir in the spring onion or chopped onion.
  4. Add tomatoes, cucumber, parsley and mint to the dressing and mix well. Leave for at least 10 minutes to allow flavours and juices to meld before serving. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  5. This tabouleh will last up to 3 days in the fridge so it is great salad you can prepare ahead of serving time.
 
Cucumber Kim Chi
 
Kim chi - fermented, spicy cabbage - is easily the most celebrated Korean side dish.
However there are thousands of varieties of kim chi made throughout Korea with different vegetables.
Why should you consider eating kim chi now and again? It's a tasty way to give your body a number of nutrients that come with raw vegetables, including those found in raw garlic. Combine raw garlic, plenty of enzymes, and a long list of antioxidants with the probiotics that come with naturally fermented kim chi, and you have yourself a true superfood that provides a powerful strengthening effect on your immune system.

Cucumber kim chi is best refrigerated and enjoyed right after making it. You can allow it to ferment before refrigerating as you would with cabbage kim chi, but because cucumbers tend to go soft a lot quicker than cabbage, it's best to think of this dish as a crisp, refreshing salad/side dish.
Enjoy...
 
Ingredients:
  • 15 – 20 small pickling cucumbers or equivalent Lebanese or larger cucumbers
  • 2 flat tbs. sea salt
  • ½ - 1 full tsp. minced raw fresh garlic
  • 3 spring onions, diagonally sliced (use the white and green parts)
  • ¼ small brown onion, finely minced
  • 2 flat tbs. fine chilli flakes ko choo kah rhoo
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbs. honey
 
Method:
  1. Rinse the cucumbers and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Put them into a large bowl with the sea salt and toss well. Allow salted pickles to sit overnight at room temperature, or at least for a couple of hours. The salt helps draw moisture out of the cucumbers, which creates a natural brine.
  2. Add garlic, sliced spring onions, minced onion, chilli, vinegar and honey.
  3. Toss the mixture together well.
  4. Pack your cucumber kim chi away into glass jars, adding a couple of tablespoons of brine to each jar.
  5. Cap the jars and leave the kim chi to ferment at room temperature for a couple of days then transfer to the fridge.
 
Cucumber kim chi doesn't typically keep as well as cabbage kim chi, so you can begin enjoying it right away, almost like a crisp, refreshing salad or side dish. It's best to eat up your batch within two to three days, though if kept refrigerated, it will keep for quite a bit longer, although it will lose its crunch by the day.
 
 
Cucumber and Tomato Raita
Ingredients:
  • 3 Lebanese cucumbers (or 1 large regular cucumber), quartered lengthways, seeds removed and cut into 1cm dice
  • ¼ medium onion, peeled and cut into 5mm dice 
  • ½ tsp Himalayan salt
  • 250g Greek yoghurt
  • 100g creme fraiche
  • 10g mint leaves, finely shredded
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and finely crushed
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, cut into 1cm dice
For the green chilli paste
  • 2 small preserved lemons, skin and flesh chopped
  • 2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2½ tbs olive oil
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan salt
 
Method:
  1. Mix the cucumber, onion and salt, put in a colander and leave to drain for 15 minutes.
  2. While the cucumber is steeping, put all the chilli paste ingredients in a mortar and pound with a pestle until smooth.
  3. Put the yoghurt and creme fraiche in a large bowl and whisk with the mint, lemon juice and cumin. Add the cucumber and onion mix, and the tomatoes, and stir gently.
  4. To serve, spread over the base of a large, shallow bowl and spoon chilli paste on top. Swirl lightly on the surface and serve.
 
Our Vital Veggies Greek Lunch Salad
Ingredients:
  • 1 Lebanese Cucumber, chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped or 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ red onion, in fine rings or finely sliced
  • 60 g fetta cheese, cubed or crumbled
  • about 8 kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 tbs pepita (pumpkin) seeds
  • Himalayan salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A good handful of Sunflower (or other) sprouts
Dressing:
  • ¼ cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp balsamic glaze
  • ½ garlic clove, minced
 
Method:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
  2. Add all the other salad ingredients and toss them well with the dressing.
 
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