Each week I look for hidden treasures at my local farmers’ market. The Collingswood Farmers’ Market to be specific. Hidden or out in front there is always something new. It might be an early harvest of a beloved crop or it might be something new being tested against the tried and true.
This week Farmer Julie of Our Yards Farm, the first suburban farm in Camden County NJ (suburban farms are farms that utilize pieces of yards and gardens in areas that are not traditional farmlands) had a basket full of Asian cucumbers. Asian cucumbers, I was told, are usually close to twenty four inches long and sometimes curvy. At first I chose the last curvy one. It was interesting looking and I thought it would photograph well for this blog. A young woman shopping next to me asked for a similar cucumber but was told I had picked up the last one. Asian cucumbers were new and in short supply. Not wanting the other shopper to go away without the vegetable she wanted, I handed it to her and took a smooth straight Asian cucumber of another variety. After exchanging pleasantries and the back and forth of “you take it…no, you have it”, we settled on me taking the smooth one and she taking the curvy one.
What a pleasant surprise this cucumber was!
I peeled it and sliced it (into three dozen slices!) and drizzled about a tablespoon of my favorite vinaigrette dressing over it. I let it sit in its bowl on the counter while I prepared the rest of the meal. I served it just like that.
It was delicious. And different enough to have it’s own blog post. Sweet. Crisp. Light. A perfect, simple summer delight of a salad. (And the leftovers stayed sweet and crisp and light in a jar in the refrigerator until lunchtime the next day!)
(If you want more of an Asian flavor you can mix together (for one Asian cucumber): a generous pinch of Kosher coarse salt, 1 teaspoon white and/or black sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, a generous pinch of sugar, a pinch of red pepper flakes and drizzle over and let marinate).
I’ve found many food treasures at the market. Gray zucchini, tomato berries, Asian long beans, white cucumbers, eight ball zucchini, miniature cantaloupe….. Each year I look for what I’ve had before and for things I’ve never had before. And I’m never disappointed.