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Add crunch, coolness to dishes with English cukes

Given the choice, most of us would probably choose the “burpless” variety of just about anything – say, a pastrami sandwich, a pint of beer, a slice of pizza – over a burpy one.

If only the folks who sold English cucumbers played up those burp-free qualities, these long, slender vegetables could be more famous than their common cousins.

But you can still find English, or burpless, cucumbers in most supermarkets, wrapped in plastic. The variety is sometimes called a seedless cucumber (it’s the seeds that upset some peoples’ stomachs), but the English cucumber still has seeds – albeit very small ones. There’s no need to peel English cukes in most recipes because their skin is so thin.

How to choose them: Look for firm, dark green English cucumbers.

When to find them: They are available year-round but are particularly popular in the warmer months because their high water content makes them a cool treat.

Where to put them: Keep English cucumbers wrapped tightly in plastic for up to a week in a crisper drawer in the fridge.

Why eat them: Cucumbers are very low in calories – about 45 calories for a whole one. They add crunch and coolness to many dishes.

What to do with them: English cucumbers fit nicely when sliced in salads and sandwiches.

Gazpacho Verde

1 cucumber

1 zucchini, with ends trimmed

2 green onions, trimmed

1/2 green bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 fresh green jalapeno, seeded, stemmed and quartered

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tomato, coarsely chopped

1 cup yogurt (optional)

Rough cut the cucumber, zucchini, green onions and bell pepper into large pieces, about 1 to 2 inches in size.

Drop the garlic and jalapeno into a food processor with the blade running. Turn off the motor and add the cucumber, zucchini, green onions, bell pepper, cilantro, salt and white pepper. Pulse until the ingredients are chopped into a rough blend. The pieces should be 1/4 to 1/2 -inch in size.

In a large serving bowl, stir together the broth, olive oil and vinegar until well blended. Mix in the vegetables. Chill. Serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt, if desired, and coarsely chopped tomato.

Yield: 4 servings

Approximate nutrition per serving: 76 calories, 4.3 grams fat (.7 grams saturated, 46 percent fat calories), 2.5 grams protein, 8.9 grams carbohydrate, less than 1 milligram cholesterol, 2 grams dietary fiber, 182 milligrams sodium.

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Squares

Gourmet, June 2001

1 English cucumber, peeled

6 tablespoons sour cream

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish

16 slices pumpernickel cocktail bread

1/4 pound thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into 1 1/2 -inch pieces

Halve cucumber crosswise and thinly julienne lengthwise, preferably with a mandoline or other manual slicer, working around core. Discard core.

Stir together sour cream, horseradish, and salt and pepper to taste.

Divide bread into 4 stacks and cut stacks into 1 1/2-inch squares with a serrated knife, discarding crusts. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon sour cream onto center of each bread square, then top with a folded piece of salmon.

Top salmon with a small amount of cucumber, twirled into a mound.

Yield: 16 finger sandwiches

Approximate nutrition per serving: 55 calories, 1.8 grams fat (.8 grams saturated, 30 percent fat calories, 2.8 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrate, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram dietary fiber, 232 milligrams sodium.

Cool Sesame Cucumbers

Tyler Florence,

2 regular or English cucumbers

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 bunch fresh mint, leaves only

Kosher salt

Slice the cucumber into thin rounds. Put them into a bowl and toss them with the soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, mint leaves and salt, to taste.

Yield: 8 side servings

Approximate nutrition per serving: 30 calories, 1.9 grams fat (.3 grams saturated, 55 percent fat calories), .8 grams protein, 2.7 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, less than 1 gram dietary fiber, 207 milligrams sodium.