Beyond the Pickle

Cucumbers are so prolific that if you decide to plant some and aren’t creative, you can easily end up with a basement filled with jar upon jar of pickles. But there’s so much more that can be done than just brining those babies.

Shrimp and Cucumber Stir-fry
Peel 1 cucumber, slice in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Slice into 1∕8-inch half-moons. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Saute 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1 tablespoon minced ginger for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in cucumber, ½ cup snow peas, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds and ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Add 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp. Saute 3 minutes. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon rice vinegar until sugar is dissolved. Add to skillet, stirring to combine. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes. Garnish with thinly sliced green onions.

Cucumber Avocado Soup
Peel and dice 1 cucumber. Add to a blender with 1 ripe diced avocado, 1 chopped green onion (green and white parts), 1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño, ¼ cup chopped mint and ½ cup buttermilk. Purée until smooth. With blender running, add up to 1½ cups cold water to reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Chill 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Cucumber and Honeydew Margranita
To a blender add: 1 cucumber (peeled, deseeded and coarsely chopped), 1½ cups chopped honeydew melon, ¼ cup simple syrup (made by dissolving ¼ cup sugar in ¼ cup hot water), 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1 tablespoon lime zest. Purée until smooth. With blender running, add ¹∕³ cup tequila and 1 tablespoon triple sec. Pour mixture into a shallow bowl, cover and place in freezer. After 1 hour, scrape the ice crystals with a fork. Re-cover and return to freezer. Continue scraping every 30 minutes until it reaches a slushy consistency.

Head to the Clayton Farmers Market on Saturday mornings this month to find cucumbers from eco-friendly grower Silent Oaks Farm of Opdyke, Ill.