August in the mid-Atlantic region can be a bit finicky, especially early on when most days are 90ºF with over 50% humidity. So a couple of weekends ago, when the weather was a perfect mid-70ºF, my friend Yusef had the brilliant idea to gather at Gravely Point Park, near the Reagan National Airport. Gravely Point is one of my favorite spots in the metro D.C. region, even if it is packed every time I go and I am stuck parking in the grassy knolls. In addition to a boat ramp, a portion of the Mt. Vernon trail, and plenty of open space for frisbees and soccer balls, you can also lay back and watch the planes take off and land – which is just plain cool.
So late on a Sunday afternoon about a dozen of us gathered round on blankets and chairs to take in the sunshine, share snacks and drinks, and enjoy each others company. As with any picnic, the key to a successful dish is low-mess finger foods, like 2-bite cups made with cucumbers and filled with veggies, herbs, and cheese.
Greek Inspired Cucumber Cups
makes approximately 20-25 cups
2 regular cucumbers, the longer and thinner the better
1 large shallot
1 red pepper
2 Roma tomatoes
8 ounce package crumbled feta cheese
juice and zest of one lemon
2.5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
salt and pepper
** I meant to add 2 small cans of chopped olives, but forgot, so feel free to add those too!
1) Finely dice shallot. Seed and chop red pepper and tomatoes into small pieces. Toss the chopped veggies and parsley together (add the chopped olives as well if you have a better memory than I).
2) Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest toss over veggies to coat. Add feta cheese.
3) Scrub cucumbers and (if you are feeling fancy) use a vegetable peeler to 4 stripes down the cucumber. Slice of about ¼ inch of each end of the cucumber.
4) Slice cucumbers into ¾ to 1-inch slices. Using a small teaspoon or melon baller, carefully scoop out the center of the cucumber slices, creating a cup.
5) Fill each cup with the veggies and cheese.
6) Serve chilled.