Popping in today with a PSA that the recipe for Cucumber Tomato Salad with BEST EVER Italian Vinaigrette exists, and you should be making it as often as possible before the sun sets on summer, and the fresh tomato, cucumber, and basil bounty that comes along with it!
For almost every single dinner growing up my Mom made an iceberg lettuce salad (tell me you grew up in the 80s without telling me you grew up in the 80s.) Once summer rolled around though, she’d swap a head of iceberg for this fresh side dish recipe made with the cucumbers, tomatoes, and basil she grew in her garden.
We ate it with dinner 3-4 nights a week and I’m happy to report the tradition is alive and well in the here and now. I serve this stunning yet simple side dish to my crew multiple times a week in the summertime.
It’s a fresh and healthy way to dress up any ho hum dinner!
Raid your garden or the Farmer’s Market for fresh, local cucumbers, tomatoes, and basil then chop them up, toss into a bowl, and drizzle with a generous amount of my BEST EVER Italian Vinaigrette. It’s as simple as that.
Gwen calls this “Mama Dressing” by the way, which makes me so happy I could cry. I also have no shame in telling you that I eat my bowl of Cucumber Tomato Salad with a spoon so I can savor every last drop of the dressing mixed with the juices from the tomatoes.
Cucumber Tomato Salad Dressing
You can of course use store-bought dressing for this Cucumber Tomato Salad recipe, but my homemade Italian Vinaigrette is a stunner, and super easy to whip up.
Reader Trish says: “I am totally loving this dressing. My life feels oddly incomplete if I don’t have a batch already mixed in the fridge and awaiting my next salad. ”
#RELATABLE! Feel free to make this vinaigrette up to two weeks ahead of time. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Neutral tasting oil: I recommend avocado, grapeseed, or canola oil for the vinaigrette, versus extra virgin olive oil, which can overpower the other ingredients.
- White wine vinegar or Red wine vinegar: either option provides a nice, sharp tang to the vinaigrette.
- Apple cider vinegar: cider vinegar is a little more mild than red wine vinegar and adds a nice, puckery flavor.
- Dijon mustard: this helps emulsify the vinaigrette.
- Minced shallot: shallots add a mild onion flavor to the dressing.
- Fresh garlic: I LOVE the hint of garlicky flavor finely minced fresh garlic adds to this dressing!
- Honey: helps to balance out all the flavors. You could use real maple syrup or granulated sugar to keep this dressing and side dish vegan.
- Dried herbs and seasonings: salt, pepper, dried oregano, and dried marjoram add lots of craveable flavor.
Choosing Your Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Mostly I use a regular cucumber and vine-ripened tomatoes to make this salad, but feel free to use whatever you like best.
- Cucumber options: If using a regular cucumber, peel, slice, then seed the cucumber before chopping. If using an English cucumber (like in these photos) there’s no need to peel or seed before slicing or chopping. You can slice Persian cucumbers (the little mini cukes!) into coins. Again, no need to peel first.
- Tomato options: Vine ripened tomatoes are great in this recipe, and I like to seed those first. Other delicious options are roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or heirloom tomatoes.
Side Dish for Simple Dinners
In the summer I tend to make less “recipes” for dinner – meaning I grill or saute a protein, or make spaghetti — so having a simple side dish full of veggies I don’t have to think too hard about is always nice to have in my back pocket. I know you’ll love this dish for the exact same reason. :)
How to Make this Recipe
Start by making the Best Ever Italian Vinaigrette. Trust me when I tell you that this stuff is better than anything you’ll find at the store!
To a mason jar or small bowl add the dressing ingredients: oil, vinegars, Dijon mustard, minced shallot and garlic, honey, and dried herbs and seasonings. Shake or whisk to combine.
I like to make the vinaigrette at least a couple of hours before eating so the flavors have time to meld, though it will keep well in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Next, peel, seed, and dice a regular cucumber, and then seed and chop vine-ripened tomatoes and add to a large bowl. Tear or thinly slice (aka chiffonade) fresh basil leaves and add to the bowl as well. Here’s how to chiffonade fresh basil leaves:
- Nest basil leaves into each other to form a “boat”
- Roll the leaves into a cigar shape
- Thinly slice
Transform this Salad
As written, my Cucumber Tomato Salad is simple, unfussy, fresh, and flavorful. That said, it makes a great base to be added to or enhanced. Try any of these tasty ideas:
- Add mini mozzarella balls (also called “pearls”)
- Add a diced avocado
- Use fresh herbs like chives or fresh dill instead of/or in addition to basil
- Give it a Mediterranean spin by adding kalamata olives and crumbled or cubed feta cheese
- Add toasted bread cubes (here’s how to make them!) to make Panzanella salad
- Add thinly sliced red onions to make a Cucumber Tomato Onion Salad
Last step is to pour the Italian Vinaigrette over the tomato-cucumber salad, season with a little more salt and pepper to taste, then scoop, serve, and devour. I hope you love this fresh and summery side dish – enjoy!
More Summery Salad Recipes
- Gluten Free Potato Salad
- The BEST Pasta Salad
- Napa Sweet Corn Salad
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Marinated Vegetable Salad
- Sweet Corn Caprese Salad
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Cucumber Tomato Salad with BEST EVER Italian Vinaigrette
Cucumber Tomato Salad with BEST EVER Italian Vinaigrette is the perfect side dish for any summer meal! Quick, fresh, and delicious.
- 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- handful fresh basil, torn or sliced
- For the Italian Vinaigrette:
- scant 1 cup neutral-tasting oil like avocado, grapeseed, or canola oil (do not recommend EVOO)
- 1/4 cup red wine or white wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinager
- 2 Tablespoons minced shallot OR 1 teaspoon dried minced onions
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
- For the Italian Vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid or a small mixing bowl then shake or whisk to combine. Can be made up to 2 weeks ahead of time.
- Add cucumbers, tomatoes, and basil to a large serving bowl then drizzle with Italian Vinaigrette, season with extra salt and pepper, and serve.
- Feel free to use an English cucumber - no need to peel or seed first.
- Romas are great in this salad too - use what is in season, growing in your garden, and/or looks great at the Farmer’s Market.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.