No Cook Cucumber Soup with Avocado Toast

 

Here’s a refreshing summer meal suggestion from David. He recommends using cucumbers that might have gotten a little too large.

Serves 4

Soup Ingredients

  • 1 pound cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 cups buttermilk (substitution ideas: 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt plus 1/4 cup water; goat milk and Greek yogurt, crème fraîche with goat milk; or, a non-dairy milk with two tablespoons of Umami)
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 2 small whole scallions, trimmed
  • ½ jalapeño, seeded, de-veined and chopped
  • ½ cup packed mixed fresh herbs (like mint, parsley, dill, tarragon, basil and cilantro)
  • ½ teaspoon sherry, white wine vinegar or a nice light white wine to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked, kernels sliced off
  • Fresh dill, for serving

Avocado Toast Ingredients

  • 4 slices baguette or other bread, toasted
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine cucumber, buttermilk, garlic, anchovy, scallions, jalapeño, fresh herbs, sherry vinegar and salt. Blend until smooth and adjust seasoning as needed.
  2. Smash avocado slices on the toasted bread. Sprinkle with crumbled feta, squeeze lemon juice over the top and finish each with a drizzle of olive oil and some pepper. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Distribute soup between 4 bowls and garnish with raw corn kernels and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve avocado toast on the side.

Notes and Variations:

Add roasted Hatch chile peppers.
Make a hybrid version with potatoes or cauliflower or just about any vegetable.
Cheddar and turmeric are good too.


Sesame: A Perfect Low Maintenance Summer Cover Crop?

spider waiting for unsuspecting bees in a sesame flower

Growing food in Texas during the summer can be a chore. Rather than risk heat stroke or completely drain our water resources some gardeners in Central Texas choose to wait for the heat to go away, letting their plots lie fallow.

However, it is possible to both relax and use this time to improve soil quality through planting a low maintenance cover crop.

Cover Crops

Cover crops act like living protective blankets for the soil. Leaves shade and cool the soil; roots nurture soil organisms. If planted thickly, they can crowd out unwanted weeds. Some even have qualities that help manage pests and disease. Those with flowers and seeds provide food for pollinators and birds at a time when many plants here slow down or go dormant.

But what could possibly survive the intense heat and scarce rainfall of an ATX summer?

Open Your Plot to Sesame

Sesame. Sesame thrives in the heat and once established it actually prefers soil to be on the dry side.

I gave this plant a try this year and I am glad I did. My seed source was a bulk bin at the grocery store. The cost was as you can imagine trivial. (Use raw not roasted seed.)

Growing Needs

Find a spot with plenty of sun. Plant seed shallowly once the soil gets to be at least 70° F (21° C).  I planted mine in mid June after I harvested my pumpkins. The trickiest part was keeping the tiny seed moist until the plants got established. Sprinkling the seed in rows with an eye to eventually thinning to 10-12 inches apart might help with this problem. Sesame could be started in a pot but as they form tap roots transplanting them successfully might prove tricky.

Once they get going water sparingly if at all.

Sesame tolerates a lean soil so it won’t require fertilizer, especially if you grow it in a rotation after beans. If you do choose to add some nutrients do it early before the plant begins to flower.

I haven’t had any trouble with insects or disease.

Days to maturity: 90-120.

Soil Benefits & Green Manure

Sesame is grown by some farmers to manage corn earworm and root-knot nematode populations.

When the plants near their end they can be cut down, chopped and used as a mulch.

Some organic gardeners bury the pieces to rot in the soil. This returns organic material back to where it came from. If you do use sesame like this as a green manure, make sure to give the soil at least two weeks to complete the process before planting your fall crop.

sesame pods filling up with edible seed

What are your tips for beating Austin’s summer heat?