Cucumbers 
add crunch 
to quinoa

It’s August and that means our local summertime vegetables and fruits are luscious, abundant and awakening our taste buds to the healthy delicious flavors of garden fresh.

Home gardens, orchards and farmers markets are bursting with tastes of August bounty: peaches, corn, tomatoes, summer squash, fresh herbs, egg plant, peppers, onions, melons and so much more. But don’t forget cucumber.

When I was a child, a cucumber was a cucumber. The small ones were made into pickles, and the larger ones were sliced, diced and tossed with vinegar or in a salad. If they grew too large they were made into a boat.

Then came a new favorite: long, slim, Burpless cucumbers, firm, delicious and less bitter with fewer seeds.

Then a another find: Armenian cucumbers. These strange looking cucumbers, also known as snake melon, snake cucumber, feggous or uri, are related to melons but are long like cucumbers with pale green ridged skin, growing 3–4 feet long in a bent or twisted shape. They’re firm, don’t need peeling or de-seeding — unless picked too big — and have a nice mild taste with a snappy crunch even if they look like a historic creatures.

Moroccans love them shredded and tossed with a little sugar, lemon juice and a touch of salt.

All cucumbers work well in with salsas, sour cream, salads, sandwiches, cold soups, dips or sliced and layered in bowls with onions and tossed with seasoned vinegar/water, and touch of sugar.

Slice the Burpless or Armenians into thin ribbons and marinate in vinaigrette. Add sliced cucumbers to pickle juice and marinate.

Give the slighted cucumber its well-deserved respect and don’t forget, it is said they’re good for your skin, polish your bathroom fixtures and drive away garden pests.

Quinoa Salad with Tomato, Corn and Cucumber and Lime Vinaigrette

From lesleyeats.com and loosely based on recipe from Serious Eats from my new friend Lesley Lassiter.

Serves 4–6. Dixie notes: I used both Armenian and Burpless cucumbers and added diced Palisade peaches on top with feta cheese.

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup chopped yellow onion

1 cup rinsed quinoa (see note below)

1 2/3 cups vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped tomatoes, 2 medium or quartered cherry tomatoes

1 cup cooked corn, from cob or frozen

1 cup diced, medium cucumber (seeds and peel removed)

1/4 cup finely chopped green onion (optional)

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Lime Vinaigrette

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice (from 1 large lime)

1 clove minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch cumin

Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add onions, sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add quinoa to onions; continue cooking, stirring constantly 3–4 minutes. Add vegetable broth; stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Turn heat to high; bring to boil. Cover pan tightly with lid, turn heat down to low; simmer about 20 minutes, until liquids absorbed. Transfer cooked quinoa to medium bowl, chill in refrigerator. Meanwhile, make lime vinaigrette, add all ingredients to a small container with tight lid, and shake vigorously until mixed.

Cool quinoa, add vinaigrette; stir well. Mix in tomatoes, corn, cucumber, green onion, and cilantro. 

Optional: Top with crumbles of cotija, queso fresco, or goat cheese or chunks of avocado.

Note: Unless noted on package, assume quinoa is unrinsed. To avoid a bitter taste, rinse vigorously for 1–2 minutes in fine strainer or sieve.


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