Concombre, masculine noun (un concombre, le concombre, des concombres) = cucumber (pronounced cawn-cawm-b-re, you only hear the n and the m minimally, in fact the two syllables are pronounced virtually identically, the stress is very slightly on the second syllable).
Être élevé au jus de concombre (literally to be raised on cucumber juice) = to look anaemic, sickly.
But far from being sickly, the refreshing cucumber, with its bright green skin and cooling green pulp, adds delicate colour and freshness to a lot of dishes. Showing it off on a plate with anything that is pale pink will ensure success. Serve it in summer as an iced soup. To use hot as a vegetable, peel and seed it, cut it into sticks an inch long and sauté it quickly in butter. Or in a salad, as concombre à la crème, which is my recipe for today.
In France, this is usually served as a starter (hors d’oeuvre), but I like to serve it with cold poached salmon for example. Quick and easy to do, there are nevertheless certain tricks to remember.
For 6 people you will need:
A whole cucumber
150gr greek yogurt, whipping cream or sour cream
1 tbs chopped herbs (mint, dill, chives, parsley)
- Wash the cucumber, do not peel, cut into very thin slices either with a knife or on a snazzy slicing machine (a mandoline in French), or even in the food processor. I personally find that it is quicker to wash up just a knife.
- Put the slices of cucumber into a sieve and add a handful of coase salt. Make sure the salt is in contact with a maximum surface of cucumber by mixing well with your hand. Leave to stand for at least 10 minutes.
- Mix the yoghurt or cream with freshly ground pepper and your chosen herbs. Do not salt the mixture.
- Rinse the cucumber abundantly under running cold water. Get rid of all the salt. Drain and put onto a clean tea-towel and squeeze dry. Really squeeze, it doesn’t matter if the cucumber slices are a but scrunched up.
- Add to the cream mixture, et voilà.
Another option is to use vinaigrette instead of the yoghurt (concombre vinaigrette). This also makes a delicious summer starter (or winter starter for that matter, I had some for my lunch yesterday).
Cucumber soup (soupe glacée au concombre) is quick and easy to make too. No cooking needed. Peel and deseed 3 cucumbers (for 6 people). Mix well in the blender, and add a clove of garlic, 2 pots of plain yoghurt, the equivalent of one yoghurt pot of crème fraîche, salt and pepper to taste, the juice of half a lemon and a small handful of mint. Blend again and refrigerate. Serve in individual bowls garnished with a sprig of mint and a really thin slice of lemon.