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Cucumber and Radish Chopped Salad with Chick Peas

Tzatziki. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Cool as a cucumber. You’ve heard that before.  I’m not sure of its derivation but Wikipedia tells me that cucumis sativus originated in India and goes as far back as the Roman Empire when it was popular with the emperor Tiberius, then later was favored in the 8th and 9th centuries by the famed Charlemagne. Fast forward to the 21st century where we still have our lovely cool cucumbers, with their crispiness, crunch and slightly melon-y flavor, the perfect veggie for all kinds of summer fare. I don’t know how Tiberius’s or Charlemagne’s chefs prepared them, but I’ll wager that they didn’t have a cucumber and gin sorbet, tzatziki, as well as a variety of cucumber salads in their repertoire.

Cucumber, Fennel and Gin Sorbet

YIELD: Makes about 3 cups.


2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup water

1/2 cup minced fresh fennel leaves

1 tablespoon tarragon leaves

2 large English cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 to 4 tablespoons good quality gin

Cucumber slices for garnish (optional)


In a small saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, add fennel and tarragon and let steep 15 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve set over a medium bowl; discard leaves; refrigerate syrup until cold, about 30 minutes or more. In bowl of food processor or in blender puree cucumbers, syrup and lemon juice until smooth; transfer to a bowl, stir in gin, cover and refrigerate 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until very cold. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze and churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Place in covered container and store in freezer. When ready to serve scoop into ice cream dishes, garnish with cucumber slices, if using, and serve with ginger snaps.

Cucumber-Honeydew Salad

YIELD: Makes 10 servings


1 large English (seedless) cucumber, peeled

1 large ripe honeydew melon

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste ( but use sparingly)

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons finely chopped mint

3 scallions, thinly sliced


Dice cucumber; remove seeds and rind and dice honeydew. In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, salt and pepper. Add cucumber, honeydew, cilantro, mint and scallions; toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate up to one hour. Serve cold with fish, meat or poultry.

Cucumber and Radish Chopped Salad with Chick Peas

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced

3 small cucumbers, peeled and diced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced

10 radishes, washed, trimmed and diced

One 14-ounce can chick peas, rinsed, drained

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


In a large bowl toss together the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, radishes, chick peas, onion and parsley; cover tightly and chill up to two hours. In a small bowl whisk together oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Let salad sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before tossing with oil-lemon juice mixture. Serve with meat, poultry or fish.


Tzatziki. METRO photo

YIELD: Makes about 1 1/2 cups


1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated and drained

1/2 pint plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till ready to use. Serve with pita bread or crudités.