While cleaning out my refrigerator last weekend, I spotted an English cucumber that I forgot to use. It was only a few days old so it hadn’t lost any of its crispness. I love cucumber slices in sandwiches or soaked in fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with salt. My sisters and I would eat bowlfuls of the latter when we were children, loving the refreshing, crisp-tart experience from the concoction. Last weekend, however, I was inspired to make something else.
I decided to make little vessels out of my cucumber instead. But what would I fill them with? I browsed the pantry and refrigerator for ideas, but it was my nose that led me to a bright idea. The onions and shallots that I was caramelizing for my potato-broccoli soup smelled so sweet and flavorful that I couldn’t help but set a bit aside.
I combined the caramelized onions and shallots with sour cream, chives, garlic and a bit of lemon juice for a quick filling. Topped with a bacon piece or two, I was happy to end up with a simple but elegant appetizer.
Update 7/17/2012: For a seafood version on the filling, try this Seafood and Crab Dip instead of the caramelized onions.
Note: Due to the popularity of this post, I thought I should make the instructions a bit clearer. The amount of caramelized onions/shallots listed above was taken from a larger batch I prepared for the soup referenced in the post. I caramelized 2 medium onions and 5 shallots. This amount would make more than 8 cucumber cups so feel free to adjust accordingly. This is a very flexible recipe.
- 1 English cucumber (or other variety)
- About 4 tablespoons caramelized onion/shallots (Please see notes below. Instructions below call for 2 medium onions and 5 shallots, sliced)
- Olive oil for sautéing
- Chopped chives, 1-2 teaspoons
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- Bacon pieces
- Granulated garlic or fresh minced garlic
- Salt, to taste
- Lemon juice, optional
- To prepare the caramelized onions/shallots: In a large pan, heat a few of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and shallot slices and sauté for about 30 minutes over moderate heat or until caramelized and brown.
- In the meantime, prepare the cucumber cups: Cut the cucumber crosswise about 1 - 1.5 inches in length. Scoop out the center of each of the cucumber pieces to make a cup. I used a melon baller for this. Make sure your cucumber pieces are big enough to leave a base for the cups after you scoop most of the meat out, again, at least one inch.
- To prepare the filling: Combine 4 tablespoons of caramelized onions and shallots with the sour cream and chives in a bowl. Start with just a little until you have the right onion to sour cream ratio you prefer. Season to taste with garlic, salt and lemon juice.
- Spoon the filling into the cucumber cups, top with bacon pieces. These are best chilled a bit for serving.