we may be nearing october, but the last few weeks have been some of the hottest on record here in California. Hot days and exceptionally warm nights make it near impossible to even consider turning on an oven. In fact, contemplating eating anything other than sushi, salads and ice cold treats is pretty much out of the question. It’s been especially challenging to be inspired by the market’s summer bounty while navigating the sea of sweaty people in an oversized sun hat that unfortunately wasn’t cut out for crowds. Only a few vendors have drawn us in, and that was with one simple word: FRUIT.
Enter our latest anything-but-ordinary find: the lemon cucumber. Its sunny color and cool skin practically screamed our name when we stopped to pick up an obligatory bag of wild arugula. Technically a fruit (it’s in the same family as the zucchini and the watermelon), the little yellow gift from the farming gods is every bit as refreshing as it sounds. Like its more famous green cousin, it’s more than 90% water, making it the perfect addition to any sweltering summer meal. It’s nutritional benefits are minimal other than the fact that this crunchy gem has no fat, no sugar and the skin boasts a healthy serving of fiber, but if staying hydrated is all you can think about, this ball of refreshment is for you. Fun fact: cucumbers are actually 20 degrees cooler inside than the outside air!
Add lemon cucumber in place of the essential green variety to a pitcher of ice water and have spa-style refreshment on hand at home. Or, if you’re up for some one-on-one time with your favorite cutting board and a knife, here’s a simple salad recipe to beat the heat. Vive le cucumber!
Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad
2 lemon cucumbers, quartered and cut into thick slices
1 handful of fresh dill
1/4 cup La Tourangelle Avocado Oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 big pinches of lemon sea salt
8 ounces organic extra firm tofu
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 of a large, ripe avocado
Toss the cucumbers, dill, avocado oil, lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl. Let sit for 20 minutes so that the cucumbers absorb all of the goodness.
In the meantime, cook the tofu and a pinch of salt in a skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, or until the pieces are browned on one side. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so until the tofu is firm, golden and bouncy. Set aside.
Just before serving, cut the avocado into cubes.
Spoon the cucumbers out of the lemon-avocado oil mixture into a large salad bowl. Add half of the remaining dressing, the tofu and half of the pine nuts. Gently toss. Taste. Add more dressing or salt, if needed. Sprinkle the avocado across the top of the salad and gently toss once or twice. Top with remaining pine nuts, serve and enjoy!
Cucumbers love sea salt! Experiment with different salts like Hawaiian black lava salt and lime sea salt.
Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks: A Recipe Journal