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I consider myself pretty well-versed in produce — I’m a farmers market regular, my heart skips a beat every time I see romanesco or shishito peppers, and pink-fleshed apples are my white whale.  Yet, before I moved to Boise, I had never heard of an Armenian cucumber.

This pale green summer squash is one of the most pervasive items at the Boise Farmers Market.  Every stand has piles of these things throughout the summer, and well into fall.  They have thin, ribbed skin, and a sweet, marrowy flesh that, aside from the hint of cantaloupe, tastes otherwise like an English cucumber.

The last of the year’s Armenian cukes are in the markets now, and can be whipped up into this easy lunch salad.  But for as easy as this recipe is — 6 ingredients, assembled in 5 minutes — its development involved more failed experiments than my Ph.D. dissertation.  Because Armenian cucumbers are closer kin to cantaloupes than English cucumbers, they’re wet, seedy, and sweet.  The seeds absolutely must be removed to keep your salad from drowning in cucumber juice.  Plain yogurt will also render this salad too soupy.  While Greek yogurt provides the right consistency, it lends a too-tart flavor that salt cannot tame.  Indian yogurt, or dahi, is just right — thicker than conventional yogurt, and just sour enough to be tempered by dill and a pinch of salt.  The subtle, melony sweetness of these Armenian cucumbers also threw me for a loop.  Honey or agave oversweeten this salad, but bee pollen gives just the right tease of floral sweetness to round it out.

I like this salad on its own, as a summer or Indian summer picnic side.  But I’ve really taken to turning this into a sandwich on crusty bread — lovely light lunch.

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Armenian Cucumber and Dahi Salad

Yield:  4 servings as a side dish

  • 2 medium Armenian cucumbers (15″-18″ length)
  • 1/2 C dahi (Indian-style yogurt)
  • 8 sprigs of dill, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp bee pollen

Peel cucumbers, if desired, and remove ends.  Cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds.  You should now have four lengths of U-shaped cucumber.  Now cut these into 1-2 mm slices.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine dahi, dill, lemon juice, and salt.  Mix until well-incorporated, then dress sliced cucumbers with dahi mixture.  Sprinkle bee pollen on top for serving.

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