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Peas and cucumber side dish - Input Junkie
April 17th, 2013
11:57 am

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Peas and cucumber side dish
I was poking around in Great Food Without Fuss and found Peas and Cucumber with Dill, which caught my eye because I don't think of cucumber as a thing you cook.

The cookbook only has five reviews, but they're stellar. My filter for any sort of how-to book is firstly, whether people actually did what was in the book, and secondly, whether they liked the results. Extra points if the good results have been accumulated over years. Those five reviews are from people who love this cookbook and keep using it.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large cucumbers cut in half lengthwise, pared, seeded, cut in half again lengthwise, then cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces
Salt to taste
1 package (10 ounces) frozen tiny peas, thawed
1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saute' pan or large skillet of moderately high heat. When foam subsides add cucumbers and saute', stirring and tossing until just crisp-tender, not soft, about 2 minutes. Turn heat to simmer, sprinkle with salt, add peas, and cook, stirring, until heated through, about one minute.

Add dill and a generous amount of pepper and toss to combine thoroughly. Transfer to a warm serving dish.

Variations: Add slivered scallions and blanched matchstick carrots.

Fold in 1/2 cup or more heavy cream after saute'ing the seeded cucumber chunks in butter. Boil over high heat until the cream has reduced and thickened. Serve with plain roasted or poached chicken or fish.

Here's what I actually did and how it worked out.

Due to not reading the recipe carefully before shopping, I had one large cucumber, 1 pound of standard-sized frozen peas, and no dill. Forward!

So I melted an approximate amount of butter and about a tablespoon of roasted garlic spread and threw in a handful of sliced almonds because really, why not? I'd already peeled, seeded, and chopped the cucumber. Anarchist that I am, I seeded it after I'd quartered it lengthwise, and I still think that's probably easier.

Over the course of cooking, I throw two different herb mixes and some Thai red curry powder as well as the salt and pepper. The result tastes surprisingly like bullion. I suppose unami in involved somehow.

The peas were in cold water for not nearly enough time, and they're not thawed. I put them (in their package) in hot water.

The almonds are already starting to brown. I put in the cucumber, and stir it around. After some minutes, I figure that I shouldn't wait longer, and put in the almost-thawed peas.

Water is accumulating in the pan, and since I want buttery vegetables, not vegetables in butter-and-water sauce, I keep cooking. And more water appears, presumably released from the cucumber.

So I drain the vegetables over a bowl, put just the sauce back in the pan, and boil it until it's probably just down to the butter. I put the vegetables back, and add a couple of ounces of cream.

The results are pretty good, and I eat half of it.

Some time later, I go back into the kitchen, and discover that I hadn't quite turned the heat off. I wouldn't be telling you about this, except that the additional cooking improved the cucumber (the peas had blackened a little, but it didn't affect the flavor much-- I'd caught the problem before there was noticeable smoke). It's probably time to explore cooked cucumber dishes-- the trick may be to keep them away from water so they don't get soggy.

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From:pickledginger
Date:April 17th, 2013 05:49 pm (UTC)
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Huh. Fascinating.
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From:nancylebov
Date:April 17th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC)
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Cabbage stirfries very nicely, but I haven't seen it used much that way.
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From:nancylebov
Date:April 17th, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC)
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Good point about eggrolls. Still, I wonder why cabbage isn't used in main dishes. Also, in eggrolls it's somewhat overcooked by stirfry standards-- I like somewhat larger pieces that aren't cooked to be as soft.
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From:gildedacorn
Date:April 18th, 2013 03:02 am (UTC)
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Cabbage is the easiest way to "stretch out" a stir-fry if you don't want to use noodles or rice. (Or even if you do.) It doesn't vanish when cooked the way bok choy, for example, does.

As for cooking cucumbers, I've heard of it (along with cooking lettuce), but I've never tried it. Perhaps this weekend.

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From:themangoavenger
Date:April 20th, 2013 04:28 am (UTC)
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"the trick may be to keep them away from water so they don't get soggy."

It might help if you used pickling cucumbers, they tend to be drier.
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