Tag Archives: cucumbers


The recipe below is Bulgarian. The cucumber is combined with another appropriately ancient ingredient: walnuts are the oldest cultivated nuts. And yogurt is so quintessentially Bulgarian that you can see it in the name of one of the bacteria that produces yogurt: Lactobacillus bulgaricus. So this dish, or some version of it, goes back a few years.

Tarator is served chilled, and it is a lovely summer soup. Enjoy.

Bulgarian Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Walnuts

1-2 cloves garlic
2 cups plain yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/3–1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried dill or 1 Tbs. fresh, finely chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup cold water

Finely mince the garlic and stir into the yogurt. Cut the cucumber into 1/4-inch dice and add to the yoghurt. Add walnuts, salt, and dill, and stir until thoroughly combined. Add the olive oil 1 Tbs. at a time, stirring until well blended. Finally, stir in the cold water.

Refrigerate at least one hour, until thoroughly chilled and flavors have blended. Serve in chilled bowls. Serves 4.

Notes: The easiest way to seed a cucumber is to cut it in half lengthwise, and then run the tip of a teaspoon down the center, scooping out all the seeds.

You may want to reserve a tablespoon or so of nuts to use as garnish when serving the soup. You might also wish to sprinkle a little extra dill on top.

I did see a recipe for tarator that tells you to just toss everything except the walnuts in a food processor, and then stir the walnuts into the purée. I like the texture of the older, hand-cut version, but the pureed version would taste just as good. Do what is easiest for you, and enjoy.

© 2008 Cynthia Clampitt

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Cucumbers, center stage.

Cucumbers, center stage.

In the United States, when one speaks of “gourds,” the thing that seems to come most readily to mind is something inedible that shows up in centerpieces around Thanksgiving time. But the gourd family is large and varied, and it includes a number of very edible members, including melons, squash, and cucumbers.

Cucumbers are among the world’s oldest cultivated vegetables. Archaeologists have found evidence of cucumbers growing around human dwellings dating to 7750 BC.—and that places cucumbers pretty close to the dawning millennia of agriculture—at least until the next big dig finds something earlier, as seems to be the case these days, with increased interest in and research of early foodways. But at present, it looks like we’ve been intentionally growing cucumbers for nearly 10,000 years. Continue reading

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