Nothing says “Summer” to me more than when I start making daily tomato cucumber salads. The other ingredients can vary, but the stars are my cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes. The vegetables are so flavorful in themselves, they need only the most minimal dressing to show off their flavors. Thinking about it makes me smile, eating it makes me smile even more!
A few years ago, I was in Gratz, Austria and learned that that region is known for the quality of its pumpkin seed oil. Since I had never even heard of pumpkin seed oil, I had to try it. Not only is it delicious, it is a very healthy oil. But beware, it is very green and shares that color with whatever it touches. The flavor is warm and friendly, one of my favorites for the tomato cucumber salad. It pairs well in a dressing with balsamic vinegar.
If you want very warm flavor, use walnut or hazelnut oil. For lighter dressings, olive oil is my go to oil. For the acid in the dressing, balsamic vinegar warms things up, while lemon juice and lime juice brighten the salad. I also play with the salt. Kosher salt is my standard salt, but I also use various sea salts, depending upon what I have in the house.
I always experiment and mix up the combinations in my dressings. So, go ahead and play. If it tastes too oily, add more acid, too acidic add more oil. Watch the salt though. Add it in small amounts; once you add it you can’t recover except by increasing all the other ingredients.
There are no hard and fast rules to this salad. Just try some new flavors, celebrate the tomato, and make yourself smile.
Tomato Cucumber Salad
Diced or chopped tomatoes (about 2 times as much tomato as cucumber) (from the garden)
Diced or chopped cucumbers (from the garden)
Dressing (see below)
Chopped or minced peppers (bell or italian) (from the garden)
Red onions (diced)
Combine all the vegetables you are using in a serving bowl, toss with dressing. Serve and enjoy!
A little dressing goes a long way. The amount below will be enough for a salad for 4.
I vary the dressing almost each time I make it, using different combinations of oils and acids. The amounts are always very similar:
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp acid
1/4 tsp salt
pinch freshly ground black
Types of oils: Extra Virgin Olive, Pumpkin Seed, Walnut, Hazelnut
Types of acids: Balsamic vinegar, Red Wine vinegar, Lemon Juice, Lime Juice
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, adjust seasoning to taste. Pour on the salad and mix well to coat.
Play with different combinations. If you do not want to commit to 2 Tbsp of the seed or nut oils, try using a mix of half seed/nut oil half olive oil.