Bumping into a friendly foodie at my local farmers market, I notice her hands full of little yellow orbs. I thought they were mini-squashes but she says, no, they’re lemon cucumbers — and she loves to eat them out of hand, sprinkled with a little salt.
I didn’t pick one up then, but a few weeks later, I’m cruising through the Park City farmers market and spot the sunny little cukes again.
“Oh you don’t want those,” a helpful? woman says. “They’re bitter.” So natch, I buy one.
Let’s review: my trusted foodie friend says they’re delicious and I pass them up, yet a complete (nosy) stranger says phooey, and I buy. Go figure.
Nosy woman did say that I should buy the pale, delicate tasting Armenian cucumber, which later I discovered is also called a snake melon, because botanically it is a melon (C. flexuosus) yet it tastes like a cucumber. Perhaps I should call this salad Two Cukes & a Melon?
Armed with three different farmers market cucumbers (or two plus a melon that tastes like a cucumber) and in need of a salad to bring to a friend’s house for dinner, I naturally concluded a cucumber salad was in order.
After cutting open the lemon cucumber, I was surprised to find mostly seeds and just a thin strip of flesh. Hard, crunchy flesh. Slightly bitter (sorry, nosy woman) with a hint of lemon.
I wanted to remove the seeds from the English and the Armenian cucumber anyway, so I scooped out the seeds from the lemon cucumber, too.
I like the look of cucumbers slivers over circles or half moons. Notice I’m cutting on the bias (angled cut) to make longer slivers, just like I did with the green beans here.
Pop in a little red onion for color and maybe even a red chile pepper for heat. Toss with rice wine vinegar, a little sugar, salt and pepper.
Oh, and torn basil. I like lots of basil in this salad, but I’ve only put a modest amount in the ingredient list. Add more if you’re basil-crazy like me.
Farmers Market Three Cucumber Salad
This refreshing salad isn’t very sweet, unlike most cucumber salads, so if you prefer more sweetness, by all means, add an additional tablespoon, or two, of sugar. I prefer to taste the cucumber and basil, and too much sugar interferes with the clean taste of cucumbers. Removing the seeds helps cut any bitterness the cukes may have, plus it makes for a more attractive salad.
1/2 of an English cucumber
1/2 of an Armenian cucumber
1 lemon cucumber
1/4 of a small red onion
1/2 small red chile pepper (like a red jalapeno)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 medium fresh basil leaves
1. Cut all three cucumbers in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Cut, at an angle, into 1/4-inch strips. Place in a large bowl or in a Ziplock bag.
2. Slice the red onion and red chile pepper into 1/8-inch slices and place in the blow with the cucumbers.
3. Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and pour over the cucumbers. Toss a few times and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, tossing occasionally. (It’s actually easier to marinate them in a Ziplock, because you just grab the bag and turn it once in a while.)
4. Drain the cucumbers when you are ready to serve, and place them in a serving bowl. Tear the basil into small pieces and scatter on top. Toss once more. Taste and add more salt or pepper if desired.