Wednesday, September 15, 2010

From Trash to Table: Cucumber Basil Cooler


As I mentioned earlier in this growing season, we planted cucumbers for the first time in our small urban garden. Our prolific vines have kept us in cucumber salads, pickles, and Tzitki sauce for months. My one miscalculation in all of this was our purchase of a vegetable share from Harvest Moon Farms, who also have had extremely prolific vines.

While cucumbers are a favorite of both me and Little Locathor, we've had a hard time keeping up. I resurrected my grandmother's vinegary cucumber salad, created one of my own, and even cooked them in a stir-fry (recipe coming soon). Nevertheless, every time I think I've cleared my fridge of them all, another appears on the vine, or reveals itself from its hiding place in the crisper.

This second category has posed a greater problem, as at this point, they are certainly not at their peak only one step away from the compost heap. Taking my own trash to table challenge, I set out on a quest to find a way to use up wrinkly, soft cucumbers. Pulling out my slightly dusty veggie juicer, I extracted the pale green liquid from the overripe solids. What I've learned in this bumper year for cucumbers, the juice can be used in a number of recipes: for cooking couscous, a vegetarian risotto, or a poaching liquid for salmon or chicken. My favorite, however, is a brunch time cocktail that we've named the Fuzzy Pickle.

The Fuzzy Pickle
Serves 2

2 cups cucumber juice
8 leaves of basil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 jigger vodka
seltzer water and ice

Muddle the basil and sugar together in a mortar and pestle. Scrape the mixture into a cocktail shaker, add juice, vodka and ice. Shake the mixture and strain into a large glass over ice. Top off the glass with seltzer water. Garnish with a cucumber or fresh herbs (the oregano blossoms in my garden were too beautiful to resist).

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