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Stuffed cucumber barrels

Updated: Mar 22

Summer appetizers are cooling and refreshing, and cucumber is amongst my favourite vegetables to fight the heat. This vegetable is very underrated, it quenches your thirst, it is very nutritious and very light and cooling. Here is a lovely recipe for those hot summer parties.

The combination of almonds and cucumbers took me by surprise. This small bite is delicious. The crunch of the cucumber is critical to the texture of the dish, and the nuttiness of the almonds pairs well with the herbs. The dish shines with the light chilli and lime zest. These are appetizers that are refreshing, unique, and different from the norm.

This book tends to hide in my collection, and whenever I see it, I tend to find a wonderful recipe in it. Most recipes are simple to make, but the dishes are spectacular. Cal set up his career at Chez Panisse in Berkley, and his cuisine reflects the restaurant's clean, light farm-to-table cooking. Cal is an expert in designing fabulous dishes, and this soup is unique. I love the way he combines flavours, textures and colours for a dish that stuns. I should be cooking from here and his other cookbooks more often.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


3 tablespoons toasted and chopped blanched almonds

1/2 clove garlic, finely minced

Salt, to taste

3 tablespoons parsley

1/2 teaspoon marjoram, fresh or dried

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Zest of 1/2 a lime

2-3 cucumbers

Note: The almonds need to be blanched and without skin. If you cannot find balanced almonds, soak them in water overnight or in hot water for 30 minutes. The skin will slip off easily. Toast the almonds after blanching them.

Prepare the cucumber barrels first. If the cucumbers you have have thin skin, peel them in strips about 50%. If they have a tougher peel, remove about 90%, leaving very thin strips. Do not peel them completely, as it makes for a boring presentation. Save the peels or garnish.

Cut the peeled cucumbers into 3/4-inch pieces. Using a small spoon or paring knife, scoop out the core of the cucumbers very carefully so that you leave a base. Sprinkle salt into the cucumbers and allow to sit in the fridge till needed. Add 1/2 the cored pulp back to the almond mix below, but only if there are very small seeds.

Mix all the ingredients except the cucumbers and taste for salt and a hint of chilli. Mix well and allow to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or more.

To serve, add two layers of the peeled skin on a wide plate in an X pattern. Fill each cup with the mix and arrange it around the plate in a pattern. Serve while still chilled.

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