The recent past few days in both Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg has been salad weather! I was demonstrating how to make cucumber boats using an English cucumber to a friend recently, and she mentioned that the boats were too “long”, as well as a filling meal option. While we cut them into smaller cucumber chunks, it didn’t look near as appetising as creating these cucumber cups, which begged to be blogged and shared!
This is a simple recipe, easy to make and keeps well refrigerated, for a day or so. The refreshing lime and olive oil dressing adds to the crisp taste of the tuna, and while mayonnaise is also an option, if you have some on hand, my first choice in adding a zesty flavour to the tuna, is the dressing. I normally add grated granny smith apple and fresh carrots with chopped raw pecans to my tuna or chicken salad mixes for a taste variation – I have included chopped pistachio’s, and finely chopped red and yellow peppers in this version, which presents an amazing taste sensation.
The tuna filling may also be used in a lettuce leaf wrap, if preferred, or served on baked mushrooms, or roasted butternut and / or sweet potato. You may also choose to make smaller cups, and serve them as party fare appetisers or as a snack. While I used a melon baller to scoop out the cucumber flesh about three-quarter way through (leaving a “base” to hold the filling together), a teaspoon works just as well.
This is a healthy meal option that is enjoyable to put together and amazing tasting once you bite into it. It is low in carbs and protein too, and may be adapted to include a cooked filling of a higher protein minced meat, or grilled and shredded chicken, with veggies if you so desire. This recipe serves one (for me it stretched over two meals) and may be doubled, if preferred.
This recipe is described in the steps I followed to put it together and it was done in 20 minutes – an easy and quick meal prep!
FOR THE ZESTY DRESSING
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil OR avocado oil OR macadamia nut oil
Juice and zest of 1 fresh lime
1 tblsp garlic, finely chopped
Himalayan or Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste
Optional – 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
Whisk together the all the ingredients, beginning with the lime juice and zest, the garlic and chilli, mixing well, then slowly incorporating the oil of choice, until well combined.
Set aside, in the refrigerator to chill, if preferred.
FOR THE CUCUMBER CUPS
- Using an English cucumber (the regular smaller cucumbers may be used as well), cut it into 3-5cm pieces.
- Scoop out the flesh using a melon baller or a teaspoon, not all the way through though, more or less three quarter way, and retain a base to hold the filling in place. Keep the balled cucumber flesh for garnish, if preferred.
- Salt the cucumber cups lightly and leave them to rest on absorbent kitchen paper towel to enable any liquid to drain off.
FOR THE TUNA
1 x 170g canned tuna, drained (in water or olive oil)
¼ red pepper , finely diced
¼ yellow pepper, finely diced
1-2 tblsp chopped raw pecans, pistacho’s OR walnuts OR a combination of chopped raw nuts
1-2 tblsp fresh coriander leaves , OR fresh dill OR Italian parsley, finely chopped
- Combine the tuna with all the ingredients and mix them well.
- Add in about ¾ of the zesty dressing, reserving a little to drizzle over the filled cucumber cup and garnish.
- Spoon the tuna mixture into the cucumber cups, top with a few sprigs of fresh herb of choice and drizzle the remaining dressing over the cucumber cups and balled cucumber fresh.