BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Cool as a Cucumber

35 Comments

Five months later, after languishing in the back hall closet unboxed and completely untouched, the spiralizer that I got for my birthday finally made its debut appearance. It’s not that I didn’t want it- I had put it on my wish list after all- But between a lack of time and a leaning towards heartier, simpler, cooked foods, such a frivolous contraption seemed utterly out of place in a winter kitchen. Amazing how things change! Now that the temperature is pushing 90, with humidity enough to swim through the air, the idea of raw vegetable noodles sounded too appealing to resist. Seizing the opportunity to finally play with my new toy, a cool and refreshing dish made almost entirely of cucumber sounded utterly perfect in the heat of midday.

Almost too simple to even mention, but absolutely too delicious not to, into my bowl went one spiralized English cucumber (peeled), a dollop of homemade walnut pesto, a handful of grape tomatoes, and a light drizzle of avocado oil to bring it all together. Lunch was ready in 5 minutes flat, and I was astounded at how satisfying my bowl of green was.

Replicating these noodles without a fancy gadget would be no sweat, too! Just use a regular vegetable peeler to make thin, flat noodles, or step it up a notch and break out a julienne peeler to make something more akin to spaghetti.

The secret to speeding through this dish is making the pesto in advance and freezing it in cubes. I use a really small tray of ice cube dots, so it’s very convenient to grab 3 or 4 for a dish of cucumber noodles, or just 1 to spread on toast. It’s nice to have the flexibility to use exactly as much as it takes to cover the job.

Though I hardly feel that the world needs yet another pesto recipe, just in case you’re curious, this is the way I do it. Forever petrified of getting pine mouth, I tend to avoid pine nuts, and thus lean on walnuts to take their place here. A tiny drizzle of olive oil might be necessary to get the mixture smooth, but just play it by ear; I found it to be the perfect consistency without any added fat.

Walnut Pesto

1/4 Cup Walnut Pieces
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
3 Cloves Garlic
2.5 Ounces Fresh Basil, Rinsed
Juice of 1 Lemon (About 1/4 Cup)
Tiny Pinch Ground Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Toss the walnuts, nutritional yeast, and garlic into you food processor or blender first, and pulse for 30 seconds or so to combine. Make sure that no large chunks of garlic remain, and scrape down the sides of the bowl thoroughly before proceeding. Add in the basil, and pulse to break down the largest leaves before slowly drizzling in the lemon juice. Continue to pulse until the mixture is a fairly rough puree. Add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper as desired. Incorporate a tablespoon or two of oil if needed to achieve your desired consistency, or just leave as is. Use immediately or freeze into ice cubes. Once frozen solid, transfer the cubes into a zip-top bag or air-tight container. Will keep in the freezer for 3 – 4 months.

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

35 thoughts on “Cool as a Cucumber

  1. What a perfect light summer dish! I love walnut pesto & the spiralized cuke is grea!

  2. That pesto recipe looks delicious! I had no idea that such a thing as “pine mouth” even existed. Very interesting. ;)

  3. Yum! A spiralizer is on my list to purchase.

  4. That walnut pesto sounds amazing. I can’t wait to try it. I absolutely love pesto!

  5. Yum! I want to get one of those spiralizers so I can make zucchini noodles like they serve at our local raw restaurant :)

  6. oh great, I love that the ingredients!
    Nice recipe Hannah, weel done ;)

  7. Your cucumber salad sounds so light and refreshing! I prefer to use walnuts when I make pesto too. I am not a big pine nut fan, plus they’re so expensive! Thanks for the tip on freezing pesto. I never thought of that before.

  8. This is perfect side for my memorial day BBQ this weekend. And i loved the idea of freezing them into cube. Convenient and easy.

  9. I had no idea about “pine mouth,” how interesting!
    Oh, I need a spiralizer so badly…

  10. With the warmer weather and fresh green veggies coming it is definitely spiralizer time! Glad to see that you broke it out. This salad looks delicious. I love the pesto!

  11. Lovely fresh cucumber salad – perfect for this hot weather!

    I will definitely be making this pesto recipe… I like the idea of having an oil-free version on hand in the freezer.

  12. Oooh, I’ve never liked pesto because I’m not a huge fan of pine nuts, but this walnuts plus nutritional yeast version sounds divine! Seeing as here, in Australia, we’re heading into those hearty-comforting-foods months, I might end up using this sauce over hot potatoes instead of cucumbers…

  13. Looks great! My birthday is in June and I think I know just what to ask for – a spiralizer. Your walnut pesto recipe looks just delicious and freezing it is a brilliant idea.

  14. I love your little pesto cubes. What a great idea to freeze pesto in useable chunks. Excellent!

  15. That looks lovely! I have a spiralizer and I do love what I can do with it:-)

  16. How about pistachios in pesto? They are green and delicious. I think it’s delicious.

  17. I don’t even like cucumbers, but you’ve got my mouth watering! Thanks for sharing!

    Also, pine nut syndrome? Weird!

  18. I just planted some cukes in our garden. Now I’m especially excited for them to grow!

  19. I had to look up the spiralizer. Sounds like something fun to have. I’m going to look at it next time we get to a kitchen shop.

  20. omg hannah pesto without olive oil!! i can NOT wait to try this!!!!!

  21. spiralizers rock – i can’t wait for zucchini season.

    i love the pesto cubes – what a great idea!

  22. What a lovely lunch. I wish I had a spiralizer bc I would use it all the time.

  23. Looks very refreshing! Great idea freezing the walnut pesto too! They look so cute! :-)

  24. I too freeze pesto in ice cube trays (although mine aren’t nearly as cute as yours!). Sometimes, in a pinch/rush, I’ll open up an Amy’s can of soup and pop a cube in there. It really helps to liven up the flavors.

    I’ve never heard of Pine Mouth. What a bizarre condition!

  25. what a refreshing looking salad thanks for sharing xx

  26. I love pesto. What a great recipe you have. I’ve tried it and it is delicious! I’m going to make it again later in the growing season. Many of the ingredients I can get from my organic garden. Great stuff, keep up the good work!

  27. This looks mouthwateringly delicious and so simple. Great combinations you have there.

  28. I love pesto of any persuasion ;) It must be the extra fat content in walnuts that takes the place of added oil–but avocado oil would be heavenly! I received a bottle a few years ago as a sample and have never tasted anything so delicious since.

  29. This looks Wonderful!! Perfect for those hot summer days….which are no where in sight at the moment where I live. Will bookmark this for later, looks so refreshing, thanks!
    xo
    Eco Mama

  30. Wha?! Pine mouth? [scratches head] I wonder if this is an issue in Italy? Or is there a resistant Italian gene? Anyway, great recipe, and congrats on putting a new tool into practice!

  31. Hannah – i love your blog! Just wanted to let you know that i am not a vegan, but an adoring foodie and i read your posts with a vorocious appetite!
    Thank you for being inspiring and creating a blog with wonderful food, close-to-edible photo’s and mouthwatering writing…

    A fan of your work….

  32. Great recipe! I have cucumbers in the fridge, a spiralizer in the closet that I haven’t ever used and pesto (vegan even) in the freezer. I’ll be trying this for lunch tomorrow.

  33. Love this giant bowl of veggies! And walnut pesto is delicious. I need to get a new basil plant so hopefully I can have lots of basil (and pesto) this summer!

  34. Your walnut pesto is delicious!!! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

    ~Dona

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