Making vegetables ever more delicious and appealing was not always a hip endeavour, and for the years prior to the 1970s, the recipe options were... pretty gross. Now, thanks to the incredible (mostly) women leading in this space, we have options. And oh, what options!
Discovering new cookbooks is great, but the oldies are still some of my besties. A few important standards should be in everyone’s library and, great classics deserve culinary homage, such as the reigning and incredible, Julia Child with her baked cucumbers.
This version takes half the time and is finished with fresh chopped herbs. It makes a surprising brunch dish, lovely lunch or weeknight meal on thick-cut toast with a poached egg. Yum!
Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a side dish
Time: 45 mins, 5 mins to prep, 5 mins of blanching, 35mins of baking time
4 English cucumbers, partially peeled (prettier this way and I don’t mind the peel)
Squeeze of lemon
2 small pats butter, ghee or coconut oil
1 fat pinch coarse sea salt
A few turns of fresh ground pepper
1-2 eggs per person
1 splash white or white wine vinegar
Small saucepan 3/4 full of water
Fresh Herb Topping
3 fingers chopped fresh dill
2 fingers flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 fingers fresh green onions, finely chopped
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Half a lemon
Thickly cut sourdough toast, two fingers wide
The easiest way is to just peel (long, English) cucumbers, toss them in the butter/oil/ghee, salt and pepper, and bake them as instructed. But if you want to do it properly or have thicker Mexican cucumbers…
Preheat your oven to 175C. Peel the cucumbers, wholly or partially for peeks of green. English or baby cucumbers don’t need to be seeded in my opinion, but larger cucumbers do require the seeds to be scraped. If not, they turn the finished product a bit bitter and hold a lot of water, leading to mushy baked cucumbers.
Blanching & Baking
Boil four cups, in a deep pan, salt the water and when boiling, add your partially peeled and chopped cucumbers and cook for 2-3 mins maximum. Prep a bowl of cold or iced water in the sink for after.
Drain the cucumbers and put them in cold water for a minute. This leaves you with a firmer finished product. Pat them dry with a kitchen towel or gently squeeze to soak up extra water, then add them to a baking dish with your fat/oil of choice. Toss with salt and bake for 10 mins, then turn them. Finish in the oven for another 10 mins.
While the cucumbers are baking, prepare the Fresh Herb Topping. In the final 10 mins of baking, poach your eggs and set aside. They can rest while you toast your bread and remove the cucumber from the oven. I like to toast (or gently fry) the bread in a thick-bottomed pan on the stovetop with a bit of ghee and olive oil mixed together. This method takes another 4-5 min, but I think worth it.
Set toast on a plate and top it with the baked cucumbers and a squeeze of lemon. Lay the poached eggs on the cucumbers and garnish with herbs and green onion. Add a turn of ground pepper, pinch of salt and cayenne to finish.
Hilary is the Co-Founder of the SABI, a Holistic Nutritionist and natural, whole foods Chef, product developer and advocate for women getting to know their bodies, cycles and selves better. Born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Baja California, Mexico, she now lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands with her partner Kees and her dog, Flint.