Seasonal Eating Market Blog > Posts > Mini English Cucumbers
August 05
Mini English Cucumbers

​English cucumbers are the long skinny ones usually wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.  They are sometimes called "burpless" cucumbers. There are basically three kinds of cucumbers - pickling cucumbers, slicing cucumbers and English cucumbers.  The English variety has smaller seeds and a thinner, more tender skin than the regular slicing cucumbers and pickling cucumbers are usually smaller, thicker skinned with no waxy coating and have little bumpy spines on them.  The English and slicing cucumbers are used for fresh eating while the pickling cucumbers are best for making pickles and relishes (the other two varieties don't preserve well).  

Mini English Cucumbers.jpg

The last couple of weeks I have picked up some mini English cucumbers at the Bedford County farmers market.  These are a smaller version of the ones found at the grocery store and are very sweet and tender without a hint of bitterness.  They are excellent in salads or cut up to eat fresh with a dip or to add to tomatoes in an Italian marinade.

So I had several of the cucumbers in my refrigerator along with some Alabama peaches and decided to make a salsa with grilled chicken.  I love fruit and a protein together.  I love the freshness and sweetness against the savory, umami flavors of meat or poultry or seafood.  Scallops with mango salsa, pork tenderloin with apples, ham with pineapple - all favorites.  And cucumbers and tomatoes also play well with fruits.  One of my alltime favorite salads is a watermelon, tomato and cucumber marinated salad - yum!

Glazed Chicken with Curried Cucumber Peach Salsa.jpg

Often when we think of salsa, we think tomatoes and hot pepper with a Mexican flavor profile with cumin and oregano.  But for my peach and cucumber salsa I took a different route - a delicious route - through India. Peaches, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and a little jalapeno form the base with seasonings of peach or apricot preserves, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and curry powder.  You can't believe the fresh yet warming, comforting, not super spicy (you can leave out the jalapeno and/or red pepper flakes if you wish) flavor that this salsa adds to a simple sauteed chicken breast.  The curry is not overwhelming, but adds a special, unique flavor that makes you want to eat this with a spoon from the bowl.  Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle before serving.  You can also store it in the refrigerator for a day or so.  I used my mini English cucumbers but if you have a larger English cucumber or even a slicing cucumber (I would peel this one), those will work also.

The chicken is simply sauteed in a little butter in a covered skillet and then glazed with a little of the peach or apricot preserves.  Be sure to season the chicken well with a sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper.  Don't forget to pour the pan juices, over the top of the chicken before serving.  They mingle with the juice from the salsa and make a wonderful sauce to swirl your chicken in before scooping up some of the salsa for the perfect bite!

I know this sounds very different - but every time I eat this I say, "Wow, that was a great dinner!".  Give it a try and give English cucumbers a try.

Glazed Chicken with Curried Cucumber Peach Salsa

2 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped (about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 mini English cucumbers or half a large, chopped (about 1 cup)

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

5 tablespoons peach or apricot preserves, divided

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons butter

4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts

kosher salt

black pepper

In a large bowl stir together the peaches and lemon juice.  Add the cucumbers, bell peppers, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, curry powder, salt, red pepper flakes and 3 tablespoons of preserves.  Mix well and let stand for at least 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt the butter.  Add the chicken breasts and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook over medium high heat for 7-8 minutes.  Turn over, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook another 5 minutes.  Spoon the remaining 2 tablespoons of preserves over the top of the chicken and cover and cook until chicken reaches 160 degrees, about another 2-3 minutes.  Place chicken breasts on four plates and pour any drippings in the pan over the top.  Spoon the salsa next to the chicken and serve immediately.​


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