I had never heard of a lemon cucumber before, let alone seen one, so when our neighbor gave us a few from their garden along with a bushel of tomatoes, it took me a couple of days to figure out what the heck to do with them. The first thing I did was cut one open and taste it. Observation number one, there ain’t much too ‘em. By the time you gut the seed section, you are left with about a quarter inch of “meat”. I then tried peeling it with a paring knife which gave me the feeling I was about to lose a limb so I decided it was time to look it up on the interweb.
I started by searching for yellow cucumber and eventually stumbled upon what they actually were, lemon cucumbers. Turns out, you can eat them with the skin on; although, that seemed a little odd since they have little prickly parts to them. That didn’t sound too appetizing so I pressed on. Searching a bit more, I found a recipe for stuffing them which is when the light bulb went off: cucumber + tomatoes = GAZPACHO! Eureka.
To me, gazpacho is one of those un-recipes, similar to how I feel about chimichurri. Go through your kitchen and see what you have and throw it in a blender in whatever quantities make sense. Basics should include tomato, cucumber, garlic, onion, olive oil, salt, & pepper. From there, feel free to go crazy with basil, cilantro (careful not to make salsa), bread, peppers, vinegar, etc. In this case, I used a regular green cucumber along with the tomatoes from our neighbors garden, the other staples, and bread – put it all in the magic bullet – and voila, GAZPACHO! Scrape off the spikes and hollow out the lemon cucumbers then pour the cold soup in, top with a little Hawaiian black sea salt for effect, and serve chilled.
As you eat the gazpacho, you can scrape out the meat of the lemon cucumber which adds a nice lemony zest to the soup. Or, if you are a Neanderthal like me, you hold the cucumber like a cup and drink from it, taking bites out of the “bowl” as though it were an ice cream cone. Either way, it makes for a perfect small, cool appetizer on a warm summer evening while you are waiting for the grill to finish up.