FoodCucumber's journey: From ancient delicacy to modern salad star

Cucumber's journey: From ancient delicacy to modern salad star

Cucumber salad
Cucumber salad
Images source: © Getty Images | CiprianCB

2 July 2024 16:01

Cucumber salad makes a tasty and refreshing snack on a warm day or a delightful addition to lunch or barbecue delicacies. This salad is not only delicious and nutrient-rich but also easy to prepare. It's worth enhancing it with a unique twist…

Cucumbers are members of the gourd family and originate from Asia. Wild varieties are still found at the foothills of the Himalayas. Three millennia before our era, the inhabitants of India cultivated cucumbers, which spread to Egypt, Greece, and the Apennine Peninsula. In the Roman Empire, cucumbers were prized for their refreshing qualities and eagerly consumed as snacks, especially on warm days.

The cucumber has retained its popularity over the centuries. This is evidenced by Christopher Columbus taking the plant's seedlings onboard his ships. He planted them in Haiti, and shortly afterwards, the juicy vegetable was being enjoyed in both Americas.

Fresh cucumber salads continue to attract a large number of enthusiasts. This vegetable can be used to prepare delicious, refreshing dishes, using additions such as onions, peppers, avocados, or ginger and enriched with various sauces.

In each case, cucumbers should be "enhanced" with ideally compatible coriander seeds, which will give salads a pleasant, slightly citrusy flavour.

Cucumber and coriander – a great duo

Cucumber salads are not only tasty but also healthy. Juicy vegetables consist of 95 percent water, are low in calories, and quench thirst very well, providing valuable nutrients such as phenolic compounds. The most noteworthy are flavonoids (which positively affect the circulatory system by strengthening blood vessels and lowering blood pressure) and lignans – phytoestrogens that have anti-cancer properties, reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol levels, and alleviate menopause-related ailments.

Cucumbers are rich in vitamin C and B vitamins, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. They also have alkalizing properties, effectively neutralising excess acids in the body (remember that long-term acidity can result in many ailments: weakened immunity, headaches, constant fatigue, or drowsiness).

Cucumber salads should be enriched with coriander seeds. These seeds not only impress with their spicy-nutty-orange flavour and aroma but are also a treasure trove of essential oils, particularly linalool (which has anti-inflammatory, calming, anxiolytic, and relaxing properties and acts as an antispasmodic on the smooth muscles of the digestive tract, thereby stimulating appetite, improving intestinal peristalsis, and helping with stomach pains, bloating, or diarrhoea).

Coriander seeds are a rich source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. They strengthen immunity and neutralise harmful free radicals, which accelerate ageing and the development of many serious diseases, including cancer.

The compounds in coriander seeds can help lower bad LDL cholesterol, which aids in lipid digestion and protects against cardiovascular diseases. Coriander seed components also support insulin secretion, helping to maintain proper glucose levels.

Salad idea

Preparing cucumber salads is very simple, especially in the traditional mizeria. Wash and peel about 450 grams of fresh cucumbers (although in some recipes, the skin is left on). Cut them into thin slices or half-slices, sprinkle with salt, mix, and set aside for 15 minutes. After this time, pour off the produced juice. This procedure is beneficial for any dish with fresh cucumbers.

Then, in a bowl, pour 240 millilitres of 18-percent cream (without unnecessary additives like thickeners and stabilisers), add a little sugar, salt, pepper, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar (one teaspoon), and finely chopped dill (a few sprigs), then mix everything well. Pour the resulting sauce over the cucumbers and sprinkle with coriander seeds. Chill in the refrigerator.

Add thinly sliced peppers (e.g., jalapeño), white or red onions, garlic, avocado, or chives to the cut, salted, and drained cucumbers. Mix the salad with a sauce based on rice vinegar and agave syrup or soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar (all ingredients in similar proportions). Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds or finely chopped peanuts.

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