We tend to think of cucumbers as cool and crisp, best smashed and served in salads, or brined and pickled. But there is beauty in a cooked cucumber, especially a grilled one.
Cooked ‘cumbers are surprisingly sweet and fragrant, with a heady aroma that’s akin, but not identical to, a zucchini’s. Thanks to their extremely high moisture content, they stay firm over high heat, giving you a spear with a crisp, juicy interior and deeply flavorful exterior. I like grilled cucumbers far more than I was prepared to, is what I’m saying.
And high heat is key when grilling these babies — you don’t want to roast your cukes, you simply want to give them a little exterior colour and char. The bigger your segments, the cooler and firmer they will stay on the inside. I’ve grilled cucumber halves and cucumber quarters, and both are good, though quartering will reveal extra surface area for browning (and browning equals flavour). In terms of the skins, you can leave them on or peel them off. I like the hint of bitterness they add, and they blister in a delightful manner.
Other than that little bit of knife (and/or peeler) work, grilled cukes require little preparation. Toss them with enough oil to coat — something neutral is preferable, but I used some cheap olive oil and they turned out great — and hit ‘em with a few generous pinches of salt. Grill over high heat until they are browned, blistered, and slightly softened. Let them cool to room temperature, then drizzle or douse with a salty, acidic dressing or sauce, or chop ‘em up and toss with a salad. I also think they’d make a killer tea sandwich. You know the kind — cream cheese and white bread could always benefit from a little dimension, and grilled cucumbers have at least five.