I really love tomato and cucumber salad. For me, it is summer on a plate. Crunchy cucumbers are the perfect foil for ripe, juicy tomatoes, which beautifully complement all sorts of grilled meats. Best of all, tomato and cucumber salad holds up nicely on a buffet — even on the hottest day — and is naturally cooling.
Because I adore cucumber and tomato salads, I have made more than my fair share of them over the years. Often enough, I opt to remove the seeds because they have a tendency to make a salad too wet.
However, seeding tomatoes also obliges you to dice or sliver them — which involves more time and effort. In this instance, I’ve opted to leave the seeds in, and leverage the tomatoes’ natural juices for the vinaigrette. This technique is perfect for busy cooks, because it saves a bit of time. It also emphasises the flavour of gorgeous, seasonal tomatoes.
The brightness of fresh lemon juice perks up the tomatoes and cucumbers without masking their natural flavours. It also complements the earthiness of the za’atar. With its Middle Eastern flavour profile, this light salad is the perfect companion to a wide variety of grilled and roasted meats, pulses and flatbreads.
About the Recipe
This is a great every day salad. However, it’s also perfect for barbecues and potlucks. The cucumbers and tomatoes both hold up beautifully on a buffet or sideboard.
When you look at the prep time, you might be concerned. However, you shouldn’t be.
Most of the time involved in the preparation is hands-off — waiting for the cucumbers to drain. You may be tempted to skip this step. Please don’t. Salting and draining the cucumbers not only seasons them, it also makes them lots crunchier.
I chose to take this salad in a Middle Eastern direction with the za’atar and coriander. However, you could just as easily take it in a Greek direction by replacing the coriander with a bit of fresh oregano, and adding a bit of crumbled feta. Do feel free to adjust the seasonings to accommodate your family’s tastes and what’s fresh and available at your market or in your garden.
I hope your family enjoys this simple salad as much as mine does. Bon appétit!
Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Za’atar
Summer on a plate! Crunchy cucumbers are the perfect foil for ripe, juicy tomatoes, which beautifully complement all sorts of grilled meats. An easy side for your next barbecue or pot luck.
- For the salad
- 5 medium tomatoes, cored and sliced into wedges
- 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced about 1/2 cm (1/4 in) thick
- 1/2 teaspoon natural sea salt, divided
- For the vinaigrette
- 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup fresh coriander (or flat leaf parsley), finely chopped
- 1 lemon, juice of (about 2 tablespoons)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- freshly ground natural sea salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon za'atar to garnish
- Step 1 Toss the sliced cucumbers with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place in a strainer, set over a bowl, to drain for about an hour.
- Step 2 Toss the tomato wedges with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover with cling film and set aside for about 20 minutes, or until juice begins to pool in the bottom of the bowl.
- Step 3 Meanwhile, combine the chopped onions, coriander (or parsley), lemon juice, and olive oil in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Step 4 At serving time, drain off any accumulated liquid from the cucumbers. Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, and vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl. Toss to combine. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow flavours to meld.
- Step 5 Arrange salad on a serving platter. Sprinkle za’atar evenly over the surface of the salad and serve immediately.