Cool As A (Hot) Cucumber (Noodle) | Cucumber Noodles for One
These poor cucumbers. All they wanted was to be chopped up and tossed together with that buxom basket of ripe, sexy red tomatoes on my counter. They thought they might even get to go Greek with feta and dill, be doused in my greenest olive oil, and linger in the humidity of August’s dusk as they were eaten, appropriately, al fresco. They would have gladly accepted a pickled fate over the final end I gave them, which was one most cucumbers don’t even know to fear. Cover your children’s eyes, and do not read on if you are faint of heart, because these cucumbers…were boiled.
When I recently came across the recipe for cucumber noodles in Gourmet, my first thought was “Why?” Cucumbers are, just as they are, perfectly suited to summer meals. They are the very definition of cool. They exist to serve as your nutritional air conditioning. Further, as uncooked foods go, they are versatile. They can be sliced, speared, half-mooned, or julienned. They can add texture to a green salad, bring back childhood memories with vinegar or sour cream, be rolled up into sushi, or be muddled into a cocktail. Hell, they can even bring relief to the bags under your eyes if you ended up having too many of those cocktails the night before. But, alas, these options have all been done, and the farm gave me a few too many cucumbers to know what to do with, so I figured I could risk two or three on a meal I might end up having no interest in eating. Oh, and there’s butter!
I was more than pleasantly surprised with not only the flavors but also the texture of these “noodles.” Barely softened on the outside, they maintain that cucumber bite inside—a perfect al dente (for a cucumber). You should know that this recipe serves one (Mike doesn’t even like cucumbers in any of the aforementioned formats, so I knew he wouldn’t come near these), and it does so rather lightly. Have this as an appetizer or alongside something heartier and, perhaps, spicy.
Cucumber Noodles for One
Adapted from Gourmet
2–3 kirby cucumbers, peeled
large bowl of ice water
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon mint, chiffonaded
1–2 teaspoons lemon zest (or about 1 lemon’s worth)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
S&P to taste
Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, and scoop out all the seeds. Cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips the length of the cucumber. Place on a clean dish towel, and pat dry. Blanch cucumber strips in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1–2 minutes. Drain cucumbers, and immerse your colander or sieve in a large bowl of ice water for a few minutes to stop the cooking.
Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet. When the foam subsides, add the cucumbers, mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat until heated through, about 3 minutes. Slurp.