Two foods smell like summer and freshness to me. Watermelon and cucumbers. I love eating both; crisp and cold. In spite of the fact that I’ve seen numerous recipes for grilled watermelon this summer, I’ve never cooked it myself. Same with cucumbers. It doesn’t even sound right.
But, cooking is about adventure, learning and experimenting; not just in how to cook, but what to eat as well. So, seeing braised cucumbers in Food & Wine was a challenge for me. Did I really want to make it? No.But I had to. I would have wondered for a long time what a cooked cucumber tasted like otherwise.
Are you curious?
Not counting the water, there are only five ingredients to this dish. The ones not mentioned in the title are butter, leeks and salt.
As you can guess, this is easy to put together. It’s just a matter of cooking the leek in butter until tender, adding the cucumber with water and salt, then covering to let it braise. After a few minutes, remove the cover and let the liquid evaporate. Stir in the dill and serve.
It really is pretty impossible to mess up.
I didn’t even bother to try this on the rest of the family. Hubby can’t taste anything right now and Dudette’s spidey senses regarding zucchini wouldn’t have noticed the difference. Besides this was to quench my curiosity.
“Ewww, hot cucumber,” was the thought that went through my mind with the first bite. I walked away from the dish and let it sit for about fifteen minutes, then went back to it and tried again. This time it was lukewarm and the sweetness of the leek blended with the blandness of the cucumber. “Hey, that’s not so bad,” went through my mind.
In truth, I ate a good portion of this because of the leek. Leek in butter; what’s not to like? I also kept thinking about how awesome the dish would be with zucchini instead of cucumber. Is it bad? No. But some things are just made to be eaten raw and cold. Cucumbers are one of them. At least I think so.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d definitely use zucchini instead of cucumbers. Whichever I do use, however, I would also add a dash of pepper for a bit of zing (maybe even red pepper flakes for color). It’s a bit bland otherwise.
- 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, cut into ½-inch dice
- 3 pounds tender-skinned cucumbers—peeled in stripes, halved, seeded and cut crosswise ½ inch thick
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the leek and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until tender, 4 minutes. Stir in the cucumbers, the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter and the water. Season with salt. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the cucumbers are crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Uncover and cook over moderately high heat until any liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer the cucumbers to a bowl, stir in the dill and serve.