My cherry tomato plants are finally producing enough for a decent harvest. I collected two big handfuls (just under a pint) the other day and decided to make one of our summer favorites: crisp, cool and refreshing cucumber, tomato & feta salad.
This salad is so simple that the ingredients completely make or break the dish: source the freshest, best-tasting vegetables you can find. Sample cherry tomatoes at the farmer’s market. Look for cucumbers that are firm and heavy for their size. Ryder Farm, in Brewster, NY, grows the most amazing organic Sweet Marketmore cucumbers: it was a revelation the first year of our CSA. (If you are in the neighborhood, you can stop by Ryder Farm’s self-serve farm stand and pick up some cukes; just make sure to bring dollar bills as they cannot make change). I loved cucumbers as a kid and I had forgotten just how wonderful they can be; for this dish especially, it is worth sourcing out the tastiest cukes you can find. When you do, you’ll find that this salad is like candy: gone in the blink of an eye.
I know I got this recipe from somewhere, but I’ve been making it for so long, I have no idea from whence it came. Thank you, mystery chef who came up with this one: I owe you big time.
- about 1 pint of halved or quartered cherry tomatoes
- 2 medium field cucumbers, halved lengthwise, seeded, and diced to about 1/2-inch
- 1/2 of a medium red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp raw sugar or honey
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
- In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, basil and feta cheese. Toss to mix.
- Whisk olive oil, vinegar, sugar or honey, pepper and salt in small bowl. Taste dressing and adjust seasonings if necessary. Drizzle dressing over salad, toss, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately, or allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes for the cucumbers to soften and the flavors to blend.
Serves 4 as a healthy side portion.
- Diced paste tomatoes (Roma, San Marzano, or similar) can be substituted for cherry tomatoes. Beefsteak tomatoes tend to be too watery for this salad: if that is what you have, dice the tomatoes and allow to drain in a colander for 15 minutes prior to adding to the salad.
- Substitute different fresh herbs for a different flavor twist: dill, oregano or mint all work nicely.
- The small amount of sugar or honey in the dressing works to balance the acidity of the tomatoes & vinegar: I find it works nicely to balance the flavors, but it may be omitted if you choose.
About a day in the fridge; the dressing will make the salad soggy if stored for much longer. If you want to make this in advance, chop & combine the vegetables, then make the dressing, but reserve drizzling over the salad until you are nearly ready to serve. Prior to dressing the salad, drain any accumulated juices from the tomatoes & cucumbers.