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Braised cucumbers

Braised cucumbers (Cucumeres)

by Gaius Plinius Secundus, Historia Naturalis, XX 6

about text

Original recipe: Coctos deraso cortice ex oleo et aceto ac melle iucundiores esse certum est.

Translation: When scraped and cooked in olive oil, vinegar and honey, cucumbers are without doubt more delicious.

(Serves four as a side dish)


  • 1 large cucumber (Really, they used the Cucumis melo or Santa Claus melon, as cucumbers come from the New World)
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • Sea salt (optional)


  • Cut the cucumber into thick slices.
  • Pour the white wine vinegar, olive oil, and honey into a heavy pan and cook the slices of cucumber gently in the sauce until they are tender, shaking the pan occasionally to redistribute the cucumber slices and ensure even cooking.
  • Serve hot as a side dish.

Cook’s notes

  • Resist the temptation to add more of the liquids than the recipe calls for at first. The cooking will pull a lot of juice out of the cucumber, and you can end up with the slices swimming in a watery sauce. This recipe has been tried with both peeled and unpeeled cucumbers; the peeled version, as described by Pliny, is definitely better.
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