Hot Day, Warm Cucumbers!

cucumber saute doneWhen someone left a box of free garden-grown vegetables in the plaza at Chautauqua, I couldn’t resist stashing a few in my bag. Grateful that a generous stranger shared the August bounty, I challenged myself to do more than slice the cucumbers into a salad. The Cucumber Sauté recipe in the Eating Healthy Cook Book (Better Homes and Gardens, 1986) came together quickly enough to avoid steaming up my kitchen – and gave me an unexpected way to use this member of the cucurbitaceae (also known as gourd) family. The cucumbers remained slightly crunchy and made a refreshing counterpoint to the mushrooms and onions. I let everything cool to room temperature before serving it as a side dish.

The book’s concept of healthy eating reminded me of how much ideas about nutrition have evolved in 30 years. Back then, margarine, not olive oil, was the preferred fat for sautéing. Egg yolks were out; whipped dessert topping was in. Still, the advice to eat lots of fresh veggies is timeless. Good riddance to other trappings of the ’80s, especially big hair and parachute pants!


cucumber in progressCucumber Sauté (1986)

Serves 6
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped onion [I used scallions]
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon margarine [I used canola oil]
3 cups thinly sliced cucumbers [I used peeled and 1/2 inch diced]
1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried

  1. In a 10-inch skillet, cook the mushrooms, onion and garlic in margarine or oil until tender [about 15 minutes].
  2. Add the cucumber. Cook and stir about 5 minutes more or until the cucumbers are crisp-tender and the liquid is almost evaporated.
  3. Stir in the dill and serve.
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About heritagerecipebox

I am named after my great-grandmother, who only prepared two dishes, according to anyone who remembers: hamburgers shaped like squares and peanut butter sandwiches. Fast forward 100 years and 500 miles north from my hometown of Richmond, Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts. Somehow, I ended up with a cooking gene as well as an interest in history and family stories. I have worked as a journalist and published three cookbooks plus a memoir. This blog gives me a chance to share family recipes and stories -- and other American recipes with a past. What do you have to share?
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