Now that summer is here, it’s time to turn off the oven and think about cool, refreshing foods.
When I think of summer, cucumbers come to mind - as in “cool as a cucumber.” The high water content of the cucumber provides a moist, cooling effect to the palate.
My grandmother called cucumbers “varoonk." My father sprinkled salt on their thin, moist slices to bring out their goodness. My niece and nephew would fight over cucumbers when they were little. I just like them for their cool, crisp snap when biting into one.
As mentioned in an earlier post, our friend Taniel Koushakjian is growing Armenian cucumbers in his D.C. garden. But, did you know that the Armenian cucumber is actually a variety of melon?
It’s related to the muskmelon and is known by several names: yard-long cucumbers, snake cucumbers, and snake melons. The Armenian cucumber is long, slender, not bitter, is burpless, easy to digest, can be eaten with the skin still on, and - tastes like a cucumber.
Here’s a favorite hot-weather recipe:
Chilled Yogurt-Cucumber Soup (Jajik)
Yield: about 4 servings
1 long, seedless cucumber, washed & peeled
2 cups plain yogurt
½ cup cold water
1 clove garlic, squeezed through a garlic press, or hand-mashed (optional)
2 tsp. crushed dried mint
1. Cut the cucumber in quarters, lengthwise. Slice each section into thin pieces.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt with the water.
3. To the yogurt, stir in cucumbers, garlic, if using, salt, and mint. To keep this very cold, add a few ice cubes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
4. To serve, stir, ladle into bowls, and add an ice cube in each bowl. Garnish with fresh sprigs of mint.