Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad

Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad Recipe

The other night I found myself standing in front of a 6-foot by 4-foot display of summer squash. Standing, staring, thinking about what I might need for the week. An older gentleman came up beside me carrying a handful of lemon cucumbers. They were beautiful. The size of baseballs, pale with vibrant yellow marks. With a twinkle in his eye, he started telling me how much he'd enjoyed the cucumbers he'd purchased the previous week. Well, two lemon cucumbers came home with me that evening. I eventually made a simple tofu salad with them. I marinated the cucumbers and some chopped dill in lemon juice and olive oil, then tossed that mixture with tofu, pine nuts, and avocado. Not my idea at all - the inspiration came when I posted a note on Twitter: Two lemon cucumbers - seeking inspiration. Any ideas?

Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad Recipe

A bunch of you replied with really great ideas. @carstenknoch sent me this: lemon cucumbers, capers, dill, light vinegar & olive oil. Maybe avocado? Feta or tofu cubes. Toasted nuts of some kind.

Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad Recipe

I had everything but the capers, and went for it. It's a salad I suspect I'll make again and again. The cool cucumber works nicely with the lemony marinade, dill, and creamy avocado. The toastiness of the pine nuts worked as an important counter-balance. I served the salad over some leftover mung beans I had in the refrigerator, but as I mention in the head notes below, you might serve it on its own, or over any number of grains, greens, or noodles.

For those of you who have never encountered a lemon cucumber, you can see a picture of one up above. They don't taste like lemon, they taste richly of cucumber. Another thing you might notice is how fragrant they are when sliced. I look for lemon cucumbers with good skin - because I rarely peel them. And although they may seem to have seeds that are larger than conventional cucumber, I eat the seeds too.

Thanks to all of you who provided ideas. We'll have to do this again more often!

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Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad Recipe

I served this over a platter of cooked mung beans (which I love), but I imagine it would be delicious over salad greens, brown rice or soba noodles as well. And if you can't find lemon cucumbers, you can substitute regular cucumbers, no problem.

2 lemon cucumbers, quartered then sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 handful of fresh dill (about 2/3 cup loosely packed)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 big pinches of salt
8 ounces nigari extra firm tofu
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 of a large, ripe avocado

Toss the cucumbers, dill, olive oil, lemon juice and salt together in a medium bowl. Let sit for at least 20 minutes tossing gently once or twice along the way.

In the meantime, cook the tofu. Cook the tofu and a pinch of salt in well-seasoned skillet (I've been trying to stay away from non-stick) over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy. Set aside.

Just before serving cut the avocado into cubes.

Spoon the cucumbers out of the lemon-olive oil mixture into a large salad bowl. Add half of the remaining dressing, the tofu, and half of the pine nuts. Gently toss. Taste. Add more dressing or salt if you like. Sprinkle the avocado across the top of the salad and gently toss once or twice to distribute it throughout the salad. Serve topped with the remaining pine nuts.

Serves 2 - 3.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

Just tried this super yummy, easy recipe w/regular cuc's and it turned out great!! My hubby ate two servings. A++ for fresh taste, ease of construction and taste. Thanks Heidi! We'll be making this salad again very, very soon.

MamaSove

Oh... these are so cute! I'd never seem lemon cucumbers! Thank you for a wonderful summer recipe.

I like that recipe very much.

This dish looks great. I have never had lemon cucumber before- I'll have to keep an eye out. I love fresh crisp flavor of cucumber so I know I'll love this one. A perfect meal for a warm day.

What a refreshing salad! I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for lemon cucumbers.

Mmmm what a fun way to use Twitter! Now Heidi, I'm wondering about your thoughts on tofu. Once a staple in my house, I've been reading about phytoestrogens and worrying that perhaps soy is best used in soy sauce and smaller quantities. What do you think?

What a great combination. I doubt I have ever seen lemon cucumbers though...hmmm....maybe a variation on the theme?

How do you keep your tofu from sticking on the pan if you use non-stick? Mine sticks on the non-stick. Thanks. I love your blog.

lydia

I grow lemon cucumbers every year. I think they grow better than standard cucumbers and don't need sturdy supports for them to climb like regular cucumbers do. Use them when they're young so the seeds are less developed for the nicest texture (the seeds are quite obtrusive if too old). HOWEVER, I have not bought lemon cucumber seeds to grow in my garden for many, many years since if you let one grow very mature, you can just let it dry over winter and harvest the seeds the following spring for planting. If you want to grow them yourself (even as a hanging basket), if you find some in the farmer's market that are very mature, buy one for its seeds and buy the rest young for eating fresh. Hint: the smaller they are, the younger they tend to be -- just like the bigger they are, the older and more course they will be (but the bigger ones are for seeds, and you'll only need one for a huge crop). I agree with Heidi, the smell of lemon cucumbers is much stronger than ordinary cucumbers (and they don't smell like lemons) and I only grow lemon cucumbers now (again, if you don't have an outdoor garden, try a hanging basket)!

Oh . . . and totally random, but I have been meaning to comment on some of your old recipes that I recently tried but the comments were closed on them. In any event, we absolutely loved the deconstructed sushi bowl in your Super Natural Cooking cookbook and are huge fans of Nikki's Healthy Cookies.

Looks lovely, I shall put the recipe away for summer- it's winter now in NZ. We call them apple cucumbers here and they are really easy to grow, just remember to water them generously and you will be rewarded with a big crop

anniem

What a pleasant surprise. I just got some lemon cucumbers in my CSA basket this week!! I look forward to doing this. I usually just make cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches :)

kelly

I love the idea of mixing cucumbers and avocados. I have never seen lemon cucumbers before. I will have to keep my eyes peeled for them!

I'll hold on to this recipe for a month or two unitl I'm tripping over lemon cucumbers in the garden. They are about the easiest cucumber to grow in my experience. Quite prolific and do well even in cool climates like the Pacific NW.

Thank you for cooking up yet another inspiring and beautiful dish and for teaching people to be creative and make up their own recipes! I pass this website on to all my clients and they absolutely love it! Looks like I have everything but the lemon cucumbers ~ we don't have quite the selection of veggies here in Maine (yet) as you do in California! (It's only June!) Thanks again! Gretchen

~ Lemon cucumbers! Salad a light and tasty dish for a summer day . Cucumber are the best summer dish they come from the squash family. Perfect :Dish~ Thanks for sharing your recipe:) Have a wonderful Tuesday~

I love lemon cucumbers! My grandmother grew them for salads and pickling. For my part, I think they are the best tasting cucumbers around and wish I could find a purveyor. My balcony isn't exactly condusive to growing them. Lovely salad Heidi!

Mm this looks delicious and light, so perfect for summer!

I am a chef who cooks for an early childhood development center and I often find inspiration here! Anyhow, I use tofu often-- the children love it. I always have to find ways to make things easier to cook in bulk. I have found that instead of trying to cook it on the stove top (which has a tendency to stick), that it is much easier to put it on sheet trays (line with parchment paper or a silpat) and bake for 20 minutes at 375. This looks yummy and I am sure I will make a variation of this for lunch soon!

Kelly

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