Cucumber with Avocado & Feta

Jump to recipe

My long breaks from First to the Table have all centered around pregnancy or postpartum recovery, so it may not come as much of a surprise that I am currently 20 weeks pregnant (with a boy, if you’re interested!). I’d been feeling very nauseous up until a couple of weeks ago, and even without the nausea it’s been hard to muster the energy to do anything besides read a book when I finally get a quiet moment to myself—being pregnant while entertaining a toddler full time is no joke. Cooking certainly took a backseat over the last few months, although I’ve been ramping back up as much as I can.

We also recently suffered the loss of our sweet Babs cat, our little grey floof, my witchy familiar. She spent a couple of years battling cancer and finally took a turn for the worse a few weeks ago, forgoing food and living out her last days on our bed. We were fortunately at home when she meowed to tell us she was passing, and Jonji and I laid our hands on her as she breathed her last. She’s buried close to Kitty in my parents’ backyard, in a quiet corner beneath a fragrant mock-orange bush. Despite the cancer, she never showed signs of illness or struggle until the end—we called her “The Immortal Babs,” and as Phoebe said after she died, Babs will always live on “in our heart.”

We miss Babs enormously—despite being quite small, with the stubbiest tail always held high as she stomped through a room, tiny soft paws hiding her lethal claw-weapons, her presence was huge in our house. In Phoebe’s oral list of family members, Babs always made the cut after Mama, Dada, and Phoebe. The second night after we’d adopted Babs seven years ago, she laid by my head until morning. From then on, she was my shadow, my little feline soulmate. She came from trauma, though she seemingly decided that once she was with us, she would no longer take any crap from anyone. She was so fierce, clearly telling you to back off whenever she leaned back and raised her paw, daring you to touch her again so she could—bap-bap—strike as fast and hard as a cobra. (Phoebe’s face bears a couple of light scars from her lessons in how to interact with Babs.) Babs hated loud voices, and often when I had Zoom meetings for work she would jump onto the desk and attempt to smack me in the face if I talked at all—I learned to lean back as far as I could during those meetings. She loved her family first and foremost, never missing an opportunity to drape herself across my or Jonji’s lap, purring loudly as we stroked her incredible, puff-ball-esque soft fur. Her love was hard to earn, but once earned it was strongly and generously given. Her beautiful green eyes held such intelligence, so much character, and her fluffy silvery grey fur seemed to shimmer when she moved. I miss her chirps whenever I entered the room she was in, her hefty weight on my body as we slept, the way she closed her eyes, trusting me fully, when I rubbed her nose. I think I could write a book about her but, alas, this is a food blog, not a Babs blog.

All that to say, cooking hasn’t been the top priority for a while. But times of grief and fatigue require nourishment, something satisfying but perhaps easy enough to whip up in a very short period of time when energy is low. I’ve been making this cucumber “salad” (this dish feels almost too casual for that word) for years when I was in a pinch but wanted something other than toast. It satisfies the senses, being both soft and crunchy, and serves as an energy boost with filling avocado and salty feta. It’s a great pregnancy snack because a) it’s green and cucumber is a veggie (duh) which is often the last thing I want to eat in the first trimester, and b) it’s a hefty snack that should keep you full for quite a while (important for staving off that dreaded nausea!). But pregnant or not, this is a dish for all.

Important note: I also sliced in the kernels from one raw ear of corn recently and it was delicious. I highly recommend adding corn if it’s in season and available! I would have included it in the recipe but without it the salad can be made year-round (cucumbers and avocados being pretty dang good in stores all year). But, PSA, add corn if you can!

Cucumber with Avocado & Feta

serves 2

1 large cucumber (preferably Japanese)
1 ripe avocado
3oz feta cheese (roughly 1 small handful), preferably sheep’s feta
good quality extra virgin olive oil
flaky salt

Rinse the cucumber and peel to your heart’s desire (leave it on, take it all off, or peel it in stripes like I do—partially peeled, you get some of that nutritious skin without it being as tough to bite as an unpeeled cuke). Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then into half moons. Halve and pit the avocado, then slice into wedges or chunks. Scatter the cucumber and avocado slices evenly across a large plate or platter. (If you have fresh corn—see note above—slice the kernels off the cob and sprinkle across the vegetables.) Crumble 3oz feta on top of everything, then top with plenty of olive oil and sprinkle with a few hefty pinches of flaky sea salt. Taste and add more oil and salt as needed. And that’s it! Enjoy the easiest side dish in the world.

As with all simple things, feel free to jazz things up—add a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes, crunchy pumpkin seeds, homemade breadcrumbs, a spoonful of chili crunch, or whatever you can think of!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: