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Fresh Right Now: Cucumbers

Give props to Kirby's: popular as pickles and just as great raw. Photo: Randy Mayor; Food Styling: Blakeslee Wright Giles; Prop Styling: Lindsey Lower

It's Kirby cucumbers' earthy flavor that sets them apart from other grocery varieties—they just taste like the garden. The hearty meat stands up to a brine, but eaten fresh, they are a revelation: crisp, never watery, pure cucumber taste. And that bumpy-looking skin? It's totally tender. No need to peel; just slice and go. Mixed into a bold salsa (like pineapple-lime) or sprinkled with pungent za'atar, salt, and olive oil, their full-bodied flavor shines. By contrast, in our gazpacho Kirbys blend in for a beautifully chilled soup.

Cucumber Gazpacho with Toasted Rye Croutons Hands-on: 25 min. Total: 8 hr. 40 min. Need this soup right away? Do a rapid chill: Transfer soup to a zip-top plastic bag, and set bag in an ice bath for 30 minutes. 

  • 2 garlic cloves, divided
  • 3 cups chopped peeled Kirby cucumber (about 1 pound)
  • 2 cups chopped green tomato (about 1 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped honeydew melon
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil; divided
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 seedless rye bread slices, cubed (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced serrano chile
  • 1/2 cup water (optional)
1. Finely chop 1 garlic clove; place in an 11-cup food processor. Add cucumber and next 6 ingredients (through mint). Add 1 tablespoon oil, tarragon, and salt; process 1 minute or until almost smooth. (For smaller food processor bowls, work in 2 batches.)

2. Preheat oven to 450°.

3. Smash remaining garlic clove; place in a small bowl with remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Microwave at HIGH for 15 seconds; let stand 5 minutes. Drizzle garlic oil over bread cubes; toss to coat. Place bread on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 450° for 8 minutes or until browned, turning once. Stir chile into chilled soup. Add up to 1/2 cup water to thin soup, if desired. Ladle soup into bowl; top with croutons.

SERVES 6 CALORIES 97; FAT 3.7g (sat 0.5g, mono 1.6g, poly 1.2g); PROTEIN 2g; CARB 15g; FIBER 2g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 277mg; CALC 37mg