Did you know that cucumbers are part of the gourd family (like your favorite summer squash, zucchini)? Well, they are, so start thinking of cukes outside the salad realm. Follow the lead of James Beard Award winner Tory Miller of Estrellόn in Madison, Wisconsin, who shares his recipe for charred cucumbers served over a sweet-and-sour turmeric crema.
Just like with any summer squash, if you're looking for a good sear, get the pan screaming hot. Cucumbers have an especially high water content, so if the pan isn't hot enough, they're just going to steam.
Charred Cucumbers with Turmeric Crema
Recipe adapted from Tory Miller, Estrellón, Madison, WI
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 Persian cucumbers, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Marcona almonds
Pinch hot pimenton, for garnish
Flaky sea salt, for garnish
Chopped chives, for garnish
1. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, sugar, lemon juice and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
2. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. In a medium bowl, toss the cucumbers with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Sear the cucumbers, cut sides facing down, until charred, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the cucumbers to a cutting board and slice into 2-inch-long pieces on a bias.
3. Spoon the sour cream mixture on the bottom of a serving dish and fan out the cucumbers on top. Using a zester, finely grate the almonds over the cucumbers. Garnish with hot pimenton, flaky sea salt and chives, then serve.