20 recipe ideas for leftover cucumber | Live Better – The Guardian

Recipes using cooked cucumbers


don’t think I’ve ever used a whole cucumber, even when I’ve bought only half of one. Some kind of unwritten law means that I will inevitably find a piece of twisted cucumber with shrink plastic wrap lurking in the salad drawer, like a deep-sea creature thriving in the dark and under high-pressure conditions. Once brought into the light of my kitchen, it usually implodes under the change of pressure; I’m left with a piece of green skin and a mess of liquid inside.

In addition to blaming my household skills and poor memory, I had also tended to blame cucumber deterioration for the way it had been handled, often covered with shrink wrap. It turns out this is one of those occasions when it wasn’t plastic’s fault. In fact, we have been storing cucumbers completely incorrectly. Research at UC Davis shows that cucumbers will actually last longer if stored at room temperature. Cucumbers, like tomatoes, are very sensitive to cold temperatures, which accelerates their deterioration.

They really are little sensitive things, not only to temperature but to things like ethylene gas; keep them away from bananas, melons, and tomatoes, as they emit ethylene, which causes cucumbers to ripen even more and deteriorate.

That cucumbers can be indigestible seems to be a fact. Apparently, some people are sensitive to the compound cucurbitacin in cucumbers. I am no exception to this. What there seems to be some confusion about is how to avoid this side effect, other than not eating cucumbers in the first place, which seems a bit harsh. Some recommend removing the skin. Personally, I think the skin is the best part of the cucumber, where most of the flavor resides. So unlike tomatoes, where the seeds have a lot of flavor, I always feather my cukes. In my less than scientific opinion, it is the watery seeds that make you burp. Removing the seeds improves the texture by reducing the amount of liquid in the chopped cucumber; Salads made with seedless cucumbers stay fresh longer.

1. Cucumber, strawberry and cream cheese sandwiches

Cucumber, strawberry and cream cheese sandwiches

. Photo: Rachel Kelly Photo: Rachel Kelly

It is said that the English summer is not complete without strawberries, than a traditional British tea party incomplete without fancy cucumber sandwiches. Personally, I like to combine the two, as I think strawberries and cucumbers bring out the best in each other. Place thin slices of cucumbers and strawberries with a little (or a lot) of cream cheese and you have a delicate sandwich perfect for a summer tea party.

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Ingredients: cucumber strawberries, husked cream cheesegood quality pasty bread (I used a homemade milk bread)

Cut the cucumbers as thin as you can. Press a small cookie cutter on each slice to remove the seeds and discard.

Cut the strawberries very finely.

Lightly cover each slice of bread with cream cheese.

Cover a slice with cucumber circles and then strawberries. Cover with the other slice.


You can add some fresh herbs like a basil leaf, mint or even a borage leaf, for extra cucumber flavor


I used a cookie cutter to cut rounds of the bread slices. Yes, this seems outlandish. But I needed to make breadcrumbs for something else I was doing that day, so it was a win-win situation.

2. Easy bread and butter pickles

Cucumber and butter pickles. Photo: Rachel Kelly Photo: Rachel Kelly

These sweet and crunchy pickles are very easy to make. Only half a cucumber made enough to fill a 400 ml jar. It may seem like too much effort for a single jar, but if you’ve never made pickles before, this is a good recipe to see if you like them or not.


1 medium bottle

Ingredients:half cucumber (about 350 g)1 medium red onion, very finely choppedabout 2 tablespoons sea salt240ml white wine vinegar120 ml cider vinegar180 g light brown sugara quarter teaspoon ground clovesA quarter teaspoon ground turmeric1 tablespoon black mustard seeds1 sterilized jar

Wash and thinly slice cucumbers (about 5 millimeters thick).

Cut the red onion in half and cut thinly.

Combine the cucumbers and onion in a bowl and sprinkle over the salt. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Drain the vegetables and rinse thoroughly. Let drain, pressing down to remove any excess water.

Combine vinegar, sugar and spices in a non-reactive stainless steel saucepan. Heat gently, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the drained vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 1 minute.

Remove the vegetables (with a slotted spoon) to the sterilized jar.

Simmer the remaining syrup for about 5 minutes until the liquid has reduced slightly.

Pour the liquid over the vegetables in the jar of jam.

Cover with a suitable lid (lined with plastic).

They are ready to eat in a day and will be stored in the fridge for about 3 weeks.

3. Khamang kakdi (Indian cucumber salad)leftover cucumber

recipe Khamang kakdi Indian cucumber salad Photo: Rachel Kelly Photo: Rachel Kelly

This koshimbir, a type of raw chutney from the Maharashtrian region of India is full of sweet, sour and spicy flavors, typical of the region. The dish is often served with a thali (a mixed dish of dishes), but you could personally eat it straight from the bowl, with just a spoon… on the one hand.

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Ingredients: half cucumber, seeded and diced1 fatty green chili, finely chopped2 teaspoon lemon juice1/2 teaspoon palm or light brown sugar50 g roasted peanuts, crushed into pieces30 g fresh coconut, grated1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped1 tablespoon vegetable oil1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds1/4 teaspoon cumin

seeds Put the cucumber, chili, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl. Stir well to combine.

Sprinkle the roasted peanuts and coconut over the cucumber and combine lightly.

Heat the oil in a small skillet. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, which should begin to burst immediately. Now add the cumin seeds. Fry for another 30 seconds or so. Turn off the fire.

Pour the spiced oil over the salad and mix again.

Check the seasoning. Adjust the salt or sugar to suit your taste.


For a relatively small amount of coconut, buy the coconut snack pots you can get at supermarkets. They’re perfect when you want a small amount of fresh coconut, but don’t want to buy the whole shell. While you won’t be able to grate the coconut pieces as they are too small, they can be easily chopped in a blender.

Other recipe ideas for leftover cucumber:

4. I really wanted to find a very good British historical recipe using cucumber, even though in the 17th and 18th centuries, they were generally thought to be poisonous or only suitable for cattle fodder (hence the name “cow cucumbers”), but in the Victorian era and early 20th century the British were frankly committing crimes against cucumber through no fault of their own. The idea of boiling a cucumber and serving in a white sauce, loved by some of my oldest cookbooks, is one I find really unappealing. However, in 1925 Hilda Leyel in The Gentle Art of Cookery emerged victorious by suggesting pieces of cucumbers, dipped in seasoned and fried breadcrumbs. Which sounds suspiciously like the American “frickle.” Sadly, Leyel rather leaves the side by suggesting serving his own with bread sauce. I would only drink mine with a cold beer!

5. Rupert Kirby of Casa Rosada has modified the classic Vichyssoise soup by adding refreshing lemongrass and cilantro to his cold cucumber soup.

6. I love Franglais Kitchen’s Vietnamese hot sesame and prawn spring rolls with refreshing cucumber.

7. Dominic Franks of Belleau Kitchen proves that lightly cooked cucumber works beautifully with a summer dish of salmon and fennel.

8. Cookie and Kate’s refreshing cucumber and mint gymlet is the perfect cocktail on a hot summer day.

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9. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall naturally has plenty of ideas for using cucumbers. What about their delicate cucumber with sorbet? Apparently the Pimms is optional. As if!

10. A refreshing Turkish cacik is a simple cucumber and yogurt sauce, which is very nice with lamb burgers or even a smoked salmon sandwich.

11. For something a little spicy, try Diana Kuan from Appetite for China’s pork and cucumber stir-fry. He also has a great recipe on his website for a spicy Sichuan cucumber salad, which probably isn’t for the faint-hearted!

12. Karen Burns-Booth of Lavender and Lovage makes these stylish cucumber cups with smoked salmon and fresh cream.

13. Hawkins Stretcher of fabulous food 4 All makes this cold spicy but creamy Spanish style soup with cucumber and tomato, full of the flavors of the sun.

14. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Thai-inspired cucumber and papaya salad is full of Far Eastern flavors.

15. If you love Korean kimchi, but don’t want to go through all the faff of fermenting it, try this seasonal cucumber kimchi from food historian Laura Kelley, (although you’ll have to cut down on the amounts since she makes a lot of it!)

16. An Asian-style quick pickle is the perfect accompaniment to Malaysian chicken satay.

17. Amy Sherman from Cooking with Amy prepares this delicious mango and cucumber fruit salad.

18. The 10 best salad drawer recipes from the Guardian Cook section have some stoppers that use a little cucumber, but the one that really caught my eye was Michael Mina from Cook Taste Eat’s clever grilled cucumber salad recipe.

19. To learn more about cucumbers, visit the Cucumber Growers website, full of useful information and lovely recipes.

20. And if none of that inspires you, why not try some life tricks with cucumber…

So how do you like your

cucumber? A refreshing raita, tzatziki or a yogurt and cucumber soup? Would you cook your cucumbers or leave them raw? Do you make your own sushi or add cucumber to a classic Pimms cocktail? Or do you, like some fans, prefer your delicate cucumber with a strong hit of Marmite?

Rachel Kelly is The Guardian’s 2013 Home Cook of the Year. Read more on her website or follow her on Twitter @MarmadukeS.

Interested in learning more about how you can live better? Check out this month’s Live Better challenge here.

The Vive Mejor Challenge is funded by Unilever; its focus is sustainable living. All content is editorially independent, except for pieces labeled as an advertising function. Learn more here.

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