Tomato and cucumber salad is a classic and refreshing dish that is easy to prepare, especially during the warmer months.
- Tomatoes: Use ripe, flavorful tomatoes for the best taste. Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes work well for bite-sized pieces.
- Cucumbers: English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers are often preferred for their mild flavor and fewer seeds. They can be peeled or left unpeeled, depending on personal preference.
- Red Onion: Adds a mild, sweet onion flavor. Red onion is commonly used for its vibrant color, but you can also use sweet onions or scallions.
- Fresh Herbs:
- Basil or Mint: Adds a burst of freshness. Basil pairs well with tomatoes, while mint adds a slightly sweet and cool flavor.
- Parsley or Cilantro: Adds a bright and herbaceous note.
- Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil contributes richness.
- Balsamic Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar: Adds acidity and enhances the flavors.
- Salt and Pepper: Essential for seasoning.
- Optional Additions:
- Feta Cheese or Goat Cheese: Crumbled cheese adds creaminess and tang.
- Kalamata Olives: For a briny kick.
- Avocado: Adds creaminess and a buttery texture.
- Bell Peppers: Adds sweetness and crunch.
- Tomatoes and Cucumbers:
- Wash and chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into bite-sized pieces.
- If using cherry tomatoes, you can halve or quarter them.
- Onion: Slice the red onion thinly. If the flavor is too strong, you can soak the sliced onions in cold water for a few minutes to mellow the taste.
- Herbs: Chop the fresh herbs finely. If using basil, tearing it instead of chopping helps retain its flavor.
- Dressing: In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to create the dressing.
- Combine the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and fresh herbs in a salad bowl.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat all the ingredients.
- Optional Additions:
- Add any optional ingredients like crumbled feta cheese, olives, or avocado.
- Adjust seasoning if needed.
Serving and Variations
- Chilling: Allow the salad to chill in the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes before serving to enhance the flavors.
- Serving Suggestions: Serve the tomato and cucumber salad as a side dish with grilled meats, and fish, or as part of a picnic or barbecue.
- Try different types of tomatoes, such as heirloom varieties, to add color and flavor diversity.
- Experiment with different herbs or even add a pinch of dried oregano for a Mediterranean twist.
- Hydration: Cucumbers have a high water content, contributing to hydration.
- Rich in Antioxidants: Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, particularly lycopene, which is associated with various health benefits.
- Low in Calories: Tomato and cucumber salad is a low-calorie option, making it a healthy choice for those watching their calorie intake.
- Freshness: Use fresh, high-quality ingredients for the best flavor. This salad relies on the natural flavors of the vegetables.
- Balance: Aim for a balance of flavors — the sweetness of tomatoes, the mildness of cucumbers, the sharpness of red onion, and the freshness of herbs.
- Customization: Feel free to customize the salad based on personal preferences and seasonal availability.
In summary, a tomato and cucumber salad is a simple, vibrant, and versatile dish that celebrates the freshness of summer produce.
Whether served on its own or as a side dish, it provides a burst of flavors and textures that are both satisfying and nourishing.