155. Barrington EATS: The Coolest Thing in the Kitchen

Home Newsroom 155. Barrington EATS: The Coolest Thing in the Kitchen

I look forward to this time of year for many reasons… the Fox River is open for boating, the days until the Barrington pool opens can be counted on our fingers, graduation parties, gardening and baseball punctuate the weekends, and at the grocery stores, the prices of cucumbers begin their steady descent to from over $1 per cucumber to their 3-cucumbers-for-a-dollar lows (expect late in the summer).

Cucumbers are a solid staple in my household, an item that I refer to as a Smart ingredient. It’s Smart because they always get eaten (don’t rot in the crisper!), and can round out SO many meals for my family. Both my kids and I will eat cucumber slices just as a snack. Think crunchy, like chips! They are a main ingredient in two of my favorite salads, (recipes below) 4 other salads in my salads cookbook, they add a great texture and liveliness to many of my kids favorite sandwiches, such as turkey and bacon, or ham and lettuce.

For me, not much beats a hummos and cheese sandwich with a slice of cucumber. Hummus and cucumber also combine to create two of my favorite appetizers: traditional cucumber dill toasts, and the other a Mediterranean Veggie dip where you top a plate of hummus with cucumbers, Italian parsley, feta cheese, tomatoes and kalamata olives.

Cucumbers are extremely low in calories, and a strong source of fiber, potassium which helps reduce blood pressure and heart rates by countering effects of sodium and vitamin K, which improves bone strength.

Here are two of my favorite pasta salads. Both benefit from the lightness and crunch of cucumbers:

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Spicy Peanut Noodle Salad

Ingredients
6 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar…

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 ounces linguine
1 large orange bell pepper, cut into matchstick-size strips
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped green onions
5 large lettuce leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts (optional)

Combine first 8 ingredients in small bowl; whisk to blend.  Set dressing aside.  Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta; rinse with cold water and drain again.  Transfer pasta to medium bowl.  Add bell pepper and green onions.  Toss salad with dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Line serving bowl with lettuce leaves. Transfer salad to prepared bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts.

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Cucumber Pasta Salad

Ingredients
1 pound pasta…

2 tablespoons lemon juice, or juice of a fresh lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup diced olives, black or kalamata
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into cubes
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water, and immediately cover with lemon juice. Stir. Add oil and vinegar, and stir to coat. Top with remaining ingredients, and blend. Cover and chill.

(Photo Credit)
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About the Author

Kelly Donlea is a Barrington mom, chef, cookbook author the owner of Organizing Dinner, a company that brings sensible cooking solutions to busy people. She has published several cookbooks and one of her specialties is helping parents plan family meals with fewer trips to the grocery store. Kelly also offers cooking classes and demonstrations in your home or public facility. To learn more about Kelly, her recipes and her services, you’ll find her Facebook page by clicking HERE and her website at OrganizingDinner.com. Kelly is going to be sharing recipes, cooking tips and special features about chefs and popular menu items at area restaurants right here at 365Barrington.com.

Please join us as we discover local culinary treasures and new kitchen classics in our new, local and regular food feature here at 365Barrington.com called “Barrington Eats” with Kelly Donlea!

If you’d like to us to feature you favorite chef or restaurant or if you have a food related question that you’d like Kelly to answer, make a quick stop at the 365 Barrington Suggestion Box and leave us a note in the form which you’ll find by clicking HERE.

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