It just took me a full 26 minutes to realize I’m writing about cucumbers while watching Iron Chef: Battle Cucumber. My brain clearly needs a little more time to recover after this marathon of a weekend. Alton Brown, mind taking a break from narrating the show and hawking Welch’s grape juice to finish this post? Ahh, if only.
But I digress. This is a perfectly fresh summer appetizer that doesn’t require turning on the oven. Because, I kid you not, it was so sweltering two weekends ago that I was strictly forbidden from using any heat-radiating kitchen appliances.
Whether you’re gluten free or not, slices of English cucumber are a fantastic swap for crackers or toast. Their light, crisp flavor enhances whatever else they’re paired with, and if you go with the English variety there’s no tedious peeling or de-seeding. My head’s already spinning with other possible topping combinations – cream cheese and smoked salmon, homemade hummus and pine nuts, tangy Greek yogurt and grilled shrimp, a crispy duck cake and raita.. Wait. That last one was Alton talking.
1 English cucumber, sliced into ¼ inch thick disks
7 ounces part-skim ricotta (about ½ of a 15 oz. container)
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of ½ lemon
Handful of basil, chopped
Handful of parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Make Ricotta Mixture: In a bowl, stir together ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, basil, parsley, garlic and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble: Lay out cucumber slices on a serving tray. Top each with a dollop of ricotta mixture and a piece of sun-dried tomato.