Jerri’s Cucumber and Tomato Salad

“Everyone knows how to make cucumber and tomato salad,” said Jerri when I told her I was going to post her recipe. It is a simple thing to make and takes only five minutes or so, but if everyone knew how to make it, why did I keep seeing so many plastic deli containers filled with cucumber and tomato salad?

It couldn’t be the time or expense. Stopping at the supermarket, standing in line at the deli and waiting to check out will take at least ten minutes and probably longer if you get behind me when I am trying to find a dime in my pocket to give the clerk the exact change. As for the cost, the ingredients are inexpensive, especially in season. If you are as blessed with gardener friends as we are, the cucumbers and tomatoes are often free and tastier than most of the ones you buy.

Someone might say, “But I don’t have any olive oil, vinegar, basil or oregano.” All I can say is “You should,” because these are ingredients you can use in so many ways. You can buy the herbs in bulk packages at a supermarket or food coop at a reasonable price, and they last a long time. Adding some olive oil, basil and oregano to a jar of commercial spaghetti sauce or sprinkled on a frozen pizza can turn an ordinary meal into a special dinner, and you need a bottle of vinegar in the house anyway to clean your coffee maker from time to time.

The one thing that may be keeping a lot of people from making their own cucumber and tomato salad is a lack of confidence in their tastebuds. Since virtually all of us have tastebuds that work, it is merely a matter of letting them tell you whether something tastes good or not. A fine chef or gourmet food critic will have tastebuds that are more sensitive than ours, but the important thing is always, “Does it taste good to me?”

When you make your first batch of cucumber and tomato salad, follow the recipe below as best you can. However, your cucumbers or tomatoes may be a little smaller or larger than Jerri would call medium. If they are smaller, your salad may be a little saltier than you like or have a little too much oil or vinegar. You can fix that by adding more cucumber or tomato. If they are larger, add more seasonings. It’s simple. Trust your tastebuds.

Grab your peeler and a sharp knife and make yourself a bowl of a great salad for a summer dinner.

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium cucumbers
2 Roma tomatoes
2 T chopped onion
1 T fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried crushed basil
1 tsp. fresh oregano or 1/3 tsp. dried crushed oregano
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 T cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
A grind of black pepper

PROCEDURE:

Wash and peel the cucumbers, leaving some thin green strips of peel for color. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds if you wish. Then slice the cucumbers into quarter-inch half rounds. Put them in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Let them stand while preparing the other ingredients.

Wash and remove the stem scar from the tomatoes. Chop them into bite-sized pieces. Chop about two tablespoons of onion into a quarter-inch dice. If you are using fresh herbs, wash and chop the basil and oregano.

Stir the vegetables and herbs together in the mixing bowl. Sprinkle the olive oil, vinegar and pepper over the salad and mix gently but thoroughly. Let it stand a minute and stir again.

Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit.

NOTES: This salad is almost good enough to justify keeping an herb garden in your home year round, but it tastes good with dried herbs too. We use fresh in the summer and dried in the winter.

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About Chuck Rang

Born in Ashland, Wisconsin, grew up near Hayward, lives in New Richmond, messing around in kitchens more than 60 years.
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