For much of my life, I thought I didn’t like cucumbers. I liked sour pickles and Sichuan-style smashed cucumbers, but in most other settings — especially bad renditions of Greek salad — cucumbers struck me as watery, slippery filler, the honeydew of the savory salad world. (I stand by my dislike of honeydew.) Why would you dunk a cucumber spear in dip when you could choose a carrot? Or a radish? Why?
But now I know the truth, which is that the cucumber is one of nature’s great coolants, a foil for both hot weather and chile heat. The best dishes that use it foreground its juicy crunch. And a heap of cucumbers, lightly dressed or quickly pickled, is a fast, single-subject salad that works with many meals. (It helps if you use Persian or English cucumbers, which are thinner-skinned and don’t have the big goopy seeds you find in standard garden cucumbers.)
There are two new cucumbery recipes below, and a lot more of them on New York Times Cooking; you’ll see them here throughout the summer. Because I know there are people who have not yet gone down the cucumber path — and I understand why — there are other recipes for the week, too.
Ali Slagle took the flavors of a chicken souvlaki platter, including the salad and tzatziki, and channeled them into a single recipe that you can make at home after work. If you love horiatiki — the traditional Greek salad, on which the American diner-style version is based — then you already know that feta and cucumbers are an excellent pair.
This Melissa Clark recipe is a one-pan ode to summer, and I thought of it when I saw fresh corn at the store and wanted to turn it into dinner. I added farro to make it a meal, and honestly, I don’t think you need to halve the cherry tomatoes; just cook them a little longer. But that’s me. Swapping halloumi for firm tofu would make it vegan.
This simple pasta dish from Colu Henry is great for kids — or really, anyone who loves a simple pasta dish in summer (me). The gremolata takes it up a notch, but you can skip it if you’re looking to keep things low effort.