Midsummer dinner with Cucurbitaceae family!

Midsummer dinner with Cucurbitaceae family!

One of the delights of the summer season is to see various faces of the cucurbitaceae family in the farmers market. Different sizes and shapes of cucumber and summer squash, as well as the fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and other melons! The fruit has not yet appeared on the market, but the vegetables are here, bringing joy for this beautiful warm and colorful season. We got fresh zucchini and cucumbers at the market, and there was a winter squash on the counter from the market the week before. So, I decided to let them all gather in one meal, enjoying its different flavor, color, and deliciousness.

Today’s Menu

  • Brown Rice (Click here to learn how to cook delicious brown rice.)
  • Cold cucumber soup
  • Sautéed zucchini and carrot
  • Fermented cucumber and steamed pumpkin salad with tofu mayonnaise
  • Boiled fava beans


Health benefits

The summer cucurbitaceae vegetables are known to be high in water content—hydrating as well as cooling—which our body can benefit well from in the warmer season. As we hydrate ourselves with their nutrients, they also help us to eliminate the unnecessary factors in the body through their diuretic effect. Zucchini is known to be high in Vitamin C, whereas cucumber is known to be high in Vitamin K. Both of them are high in anti-oxidants and promoting lower blood sugar.

Kabocha squash, which people here put under the category of winter squash is also, in fact, harvested in the summer time in Japan, called summer kabocha. As it can be stored longer than many other vegetables, people also eat it throughout the winter season. Due to the yellow color of its flesh, it is high in beta carotene as well as vitamin C, B6, magnesium, and potassium. Its sweetness relaxes and softens our digestive system and has a gentle warming effect. As the yellow color and sweetness correspond to the stomach and spleen in Chinese medicine, it promotes the circulation of blood and chi inside of the body. 


Cold cucumber soup

You can find the basic recipe for the cold cucumber soup in the article “Vegan Taco Feast!” It is an absolutely soothing and delicious soup recipe for the summer time. At the same time, for this dinner, I modulated the recipe to make it a little more Japanese. For that, I used 1 Tbsp of white miso as the main seasoning and added a small amount of salt to adjust the flavor. Also, I didn’t add black pepper in order to realize a milder and gentler flavor.


Sautéed zucchini and carrot

This is so simple, yet it’s delightful dish which I learned from my mother-in-law and modulated into the Japanese style. You grate both zucchini and carrot, then sauté together. I sautéed with the sesame oil and seasoned with salt and white pepper. Simple is the best way to enhance these two vegetable’s innate deliciousness.

I was happy to have yellow carrot which has a beautiful color that goes with zucchini perfectly. Also, as I already had the orange color from kabocha squash, this enabled me to add yellow into the meal. I find also the flavor of yellow carrot different from the orange one. It has more freshness and crispness. Perfect for this season.


Fermented cucumber and steamed pumpkin salad with tofu mayonnaise

This is my dream menu for the summer season. Although it looks so simple, it is so delicious that it makes me sigh. And you can only make this perfectly when you have Persian cucumber, winter squash (preferably kabocha squash), and if you are cultivating “Nukadoko,” the rice bran fermentation bed. So, this might be not for everyone who is reading this blog. Without fermenting the cucumber, you can still make it deliciously if you have the Persian cucumber and winter squash.

If you have the rice bran fermentation bed, take out the cucumber from there once it’s pickled, and slice it into vertically into long quarter pieces, then cut each quarter into 1/2 inch thick slices. If you don’t have the rice bran fermentation bed, you want to cut the cucumber in 1/4 inch thick slices and massage the pieces with salt. (The fermented cucumber is already well seasoned.) Cut the kabocha squash in about 1 inch cubes and steam them. I usually have these steamed kabocha squash cubes already prepared and stored in the freezer. If I use these, I would take them out from the freezer a few hours prior to cooking so that they thaw. Mix the cucumbers and kabocha squash in a bowl with tofu mayonnaise. Grind some black pepper, and it is ready to be served!

*Update October 15, 2021: I made an another version of this salad’s recipe here. With this recipe, you don’t have to use the fermented cucumber. I wish many of you can enjoy the deliciousness of this salad!


Boiled fava beans

As I wrote about boiling fava beans in the article “Dinner with boiled fava beans and beautiful vegetable dishes,” it is so simple, yet the best way to eat fava beans, for me. You cut the line on the top of the inner shell of the beans, then boil in salt water for a couple of minutes. As the fava beans have rather short season, it is a blessing of nature through which we can appreciate and taste the beauty of the season.



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