CUCUMBERS, STUFFED CUCUMBERS
• 6 1/2 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
• 2 1/4 pounds cucumbers, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
• 3 1/2 ounces mushrooms
• juice of 1/2 lemon
• scant 1 cup coarsely chopped ham
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
• 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
• salt and pepper
• 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 1/4 pounds very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
• 1 bouquet garni (1 sprig fresh parsley, 1 clove garlic, and 1 bay leaf tied in cheesecloth)
• 3 tablespoons dry white wine
• 1 teaspoon sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease an ovenproof baking dish with butter.
Scoop out the cucumber seeds with a teaspoon and put the pieces of cucumber into the prepared baking dish.
Remove and discard the mushroom stalks cut the caps into large pieces place in a bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Stir in the ham.
Melt 2 table spoons of the butter in a pan. Add the mushroom mixture and cook over low heat stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley and breadcrumbs. Remove the pan from the heat.
Season the pieces of cucumber with salt and pepper and fill them with the mushroom mixture. Dot with the remaining butter, cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes until the cucumbers are tender but still crunchy.
Meanwhile make the tomato sauce.
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion and cook over low heat stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes until beginning to brown. Add the tomato, bouquet garni and wine and cook stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomato with the side of the spoon for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the bouquet garni let the sauce cool a little, then process in a food processor or blender. Stir in the sugar and season to taste with salt.
Serve the stuffed cucumbers with the hot tomato sauce offered separately.