(Image credit: Jessica Goldman Foung)

Flashing back to my youth, nothing brought me more joy than finding a mini turkey and cheese baguette inside my lunchbox. They were petite and dainty and oh-so-satisfying, with just the right ratio of crunchy bread to light spread and savory fillings.

But along the way, both bread products and baguettes left my life. And while I’ve made do with matzoh and rice cracker stand-ins, I missed the shape, taste, and texture of my original sandwich. That is, until I realized the unassuming cucumber could save the day. Because let it be heard here first, cucumbers are the new baguette. No baking required.

With the slowing of summer days and the onslaught of back-to-school commercials, it’s clear that it’s officially brown bag lunch season. Which means eating less meals out and packing more for the desk (or classroom). And with my own daughter starting preschool, I feel extra pressure to up my noon o’clock game. If you’re short on time, need to ditch wheat products, or simply want more greenery in your life, give the cucumber baguette a try.

(Image credit: Jessica Goldman Foung)

How to Make Cucumber Baguettes

All you need is an English cucumber (i.e. the long skinny kind), a spoon, and your desired fillings. Then, to make your sandwich, simply wash that cuke, cut off the ends and cut it in half width-wise, making two smaller “baguettes.”

Then cut each half lengthwise, making four slices of cucumber “bread” total (i.e. two mini sandwiches). On the fleshy inside, use the spoon to scrape out the seedy part, making a deep indent. And don’t throw away those seeds! Chop them up and add them to yogurt for a tzatziki-like spread or blend and freeze in an ice cube tray for some end-of-summer cocktails.

(Image credit: Jessica Goldman Foung)

Then, stuff all that turkey, egg salad, avocado spread, and whatever else you want for lunch into the cucumbers. Put the two halve together and ta-da: cucumber baguette sandwiches. So refreshing. And guaranteed to be an instant brown-bag classic.

(Image credit: Jessica Goldman Foung)

Old Ingredients, New Tricks

As someone who constantly makes over dishes for dietary and health needs, I'm used to using total creative license when it comes to food. And the good news is we already live in a culinary world where zucchinis can be noodles, beets can be chips, and cucumbers can act like baguettes. So let me be your guide as we dust off some standard items from the produce aisle and give them a chance to show off a little. It’s an exercise in recipe liberation (not limitations) that will not only lighten up those eating habits but also give new life to old favorites.

So whether you’re trying to ditch the gluten, sugar, or just a pant size, let’s forget about pledging to take on a new diet. And let’s pledge instead to break some rules and teach a handful of old ingredients some new tricks.

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