The best cooking is born of necessity. At least that’s the case in my house. My favorite recipes always happen when I’m forced to react to a glut of something, or a shortage of something, or perhaps both.
It was a glut I was responding to on a recent weekend when I served cucumbers with one of my own salad dressing recipes at a farmers market demo. I didn’t come close to using all the beautiful cucumbers supplied for the occasion, so when I got home I scoured around for a new idea that would use them.
The answer was in Michele Scicolone’s “The Italian Vegetable Cookbook.” She writes about how, one Roman summer when temperatures got stuck in the 90s for days, she survived on a soup made of little more than cucumbers, green onions, water and a little vinegar. But what seemed so simple on paper got a little more interesting once I made it: Removing the seeds from the cukes gives the soup a particularly pleasing texture, one that prompted Scicolone to call it “cucumber cream,” even though the soup happens to be vegan.
The slight gelatinous quality reminded me of aloe vera — but much tastier. With a tomato-cucumber-basil salsa on top, it was good enough that I won’t wait for another cucumber glut before I make it again.