What to Do with Those Early Spring Cucumbers

Cucumbers aren’t just for pickles and garden salads anymore! (Though those crunchy cucumber slices are always my favorite part.) These beauties are so full of crunch, texture, and sweetness that I often center dishes around them, rather than use them as a garnish. Naturally sweet cucumbers are complements to fruits like mango, melon, papaya, and strawberries, especially when dressed with minced shallots and champagne vinegar.

Greek cucumber tzatziki is great as a dip, but it also makes a gourmet, elevated replacement for mayo on sandwiches and burgers, and it’s absolutely beautiful on top of grilled salmon in place of rich hollandaise. Cucumber also holds up very well grilled or stir-fried, almost like zucchini, and the delicious cucumber flavor concentrates as the moisture evaporates.

My favorite variation of this is Szechuan stir-fried cucumber with chilies and peanuts. Lastly, cucumbers are a must-have for cocktails. Throw a bunch of cucumber into a blender or food processor, push them through a sieve, and collect the “cucumber water” for cucumber gin gimlets, and refreshing cucumber and mint mojitos.

About the Chef

Stephanie Goldfarb is a Chicago-based chef and national food television personality specializing in seasonal, globally-inspired cuisine. Recognized as the winner of Food Network’s America’s Best Cook competition, and a celebrity chef on Kitchen Inferno and NBC’s Food Fighters, Goldfarb delivers unique and relatable culinary experiences to discriminating and casual diners alike. As the owner of the successful Seven Species Supper Club & Catering, she enjoys the challenge of building brand new menus each month that inspire both repeat clients and newcomers, and seeks opportunities to utilize new ingredients, techniques, and approaches in accessible ways.