Cooling off with a cucumber salad, cocktail

If you don't have a garden, you probably know someone who does who's got cucumbers coming out of their ears. I promise. 'Tis the season.

I have a friend or co worker hand me a big beauty almost every day. What to do with all these cukes? I mean, dice them on a salad, sure. Dip them in ranch dressing? I'm not above it. Make pickles? If you have the time. But eventually you need to take it to the next cuke-y level to use up the bounty that is this time of year.

I happened upon this cucumber salad recipe in a fit of "Oh my gosh, all these vegetables!" and I have had it several times a week since. You likely also have some bell peppers floating around, if you have a garden hook-up, so this helps with that situation as well.

The unlikely pairing of coconut oil and balsamic is what sets this apart from the myriad other cucumber/vinegar salad recipes. It sounds odd, I know, but please trust me on this. You could sub olive oil, but the result would be drastically different and much less exciting.

To go with your fresh cuke salad, you're going to need a cold and refreshing beverage. And what is more refreshing than a cucumber? That's right, in a drink. It's also a good use of the rest of the lime that you cut open and didn't use all of in your salad. We are being resourceful here, people.

Coconutty Cucumber Salad

Coconutty Cucumber Salad by John Young

Coconutty Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

1 medium cucumber, sliced paper thin
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, diced into small pieces
1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon Splenda (or sugar, if you so prefer)
1 squeeze of lime juice
Lime zest to taste
Healthy pinch of salt
Dash of black pepper

Directions

Stir together the oil, vinegar, spices and lime juice. Pour over the sliced cucumber and diced pepper and stir around thoroughly to make sure each slice of cucumber has touched the dressing. Top with a bit of lime zest. Serve cold. Keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.

Serves 2 large portions or several small side portions.

Cucumber Gin Fizz

Cucumber Gin Fizz by John Young

Cucumber Gin Fizz

Ingredients

3 cucumber "ribbons"
Juice of one lime
1 egg white
2 ounces gin
1 ounce cold club soda
1 ounce simple syrup

Directions

To make cucumber ribbons, use a vegetable peeler to remove the green rind from the cucumber and then slice with the peeler from end to end to create long sheets of cucumber. You only need two or three for this, so the rest of the cuke will go into your salad.

In a martini shaker, combine the ingredients and shake vigorously. You can either pour over ice or into a very cold glass. Be sure to shake it all out even when it seems like it's done, because that is where you get the glorious froth from the egg white, which is key to a good fizz.

Be refreshed!

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