To say that someone is “cool as a cucumber” means that he or she is calm, composed, worry-less and unruffled, especially in the face of adversity. But the idiom is based on the fact that cucumbers really are cool to the touch and palate, thanks to their high water content – 95 percent – which makes them such perfect summertime treats.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are the coolest veggie around.

Photo Credit: Dan Hemmelgarn

Cucumbers on eyes

Welcome to the lap of luxury, cucumber queen!

Photo Credit: Dan Hemmelgarn

Eating aside, if you’re looking for a spa-like getaway in the privacy of your own home, make a quick run to the vegetable garden, harvest a medium-sized cucumber and return promptly to the cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut two quarter-inch slices and proceed directly to your sofa or hammock. Put on some soft music, set up a gentle fan and get comfy. Lay your head down on a soft pillow and place a cucumber slice on each closed eyelid. Amazing what cool comfort and serenity two little veggie slices can deliver!

When hunger pangs begin to overwhelm, head back to the cutting board and prepare some quick and easy snacks, soup and salad – cucumber style. Here are a few recipe ideas that take advantage of the cucumber’s fresh flavor and crisp, cool goodness:

Container Cucumber Salad

In a canning jar or glass storage bowl, layer chopped cucumbers, red onion slices and red pepper rings. Pour your favorite homemade vinaigrette over the vegetables, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy as-is or on top of crisp summer salad greens with a side of fresh feta cheese and warm pita bread.

Cucumber Appetizers

Need a party platter? Simply slice cucumbers and use them as a base (as you would crackers). Top with a small dollop of herb-spiked cream or cottage cheese and a sprig of dill, a smidgeon of humus with a cilantro leaf or a teaspoonful of curried chicken salad. Watch your guests go wild!

Gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, seeded and chopped (variety and heat according to taste)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Leaves from 1 stem of oregano – about 1 Tbsp. fresh leaves (optional)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • A dash or two of sugar

Preparation

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, then pulse just to pulverize. Serve cold or at room temperature, along with a warm, crusty baguette and herb butter.

When it comes to veggies, cucumbers are the coolest: They’re refreshing, they’re delicious, and when you’re looking for a way to cool down, they won’t leave you in a pickle.