Cucumber and Tomato Salad ~ Four Ingredients, Five Minutes

This is one of the simplest and most flavorful salads to throw together. At the end of August, when cucumbers and tomatoes are growing fast and furious and delicate greens have withered under the heat, we eat this dish a lot! Cucumbers and tomatoes are both hydrating, and you can't beat summer tomatoes eaten right off the vine.

Four ingredients. Cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh herbs and vinaigrette. That's it. Add anything else and it's no longer a Cucumber and Tomato Salad. It would just be... well, salad. Don't get me wrong, I love salads. I've made some delectable salads. Some bordering on divine even, and so completely satisfying that's all I wanted to eat for days. These always have more than four ingredients though. This Cucumber and Tomato Salad is perfect with just these four ingredients.

A few years ago, I learned just how crunchy, versatile and delicious pickling cucumbers are eaten raw. They're not just for making pickles! This bunch was gifted to us from a neighbor.

With the start of a new school year, I've been hustling to stay ahead of everything ripening quickly as the days slowly become shorter.

These cucumbers were about to get one up on me. Cucumber and Tomato Salad to the rescue!

Here's how to throw it together. PRINT HERE

Total Time: 5 minutes Prep time: 4 minutes Assembly: 1 minute

For 4 servings you'll need:

1. 4 medium cucumbers, any variety (I prefer pickling, English or Japanese cucumbers for their crunchiness, thin skins and fewer seeds). Peeled or not (see note below), sliced into half-moons (see photo above).

2. 2 cups of any tomato halves or quarters, preferably locally grown and in season. If you can choose a variety of colors, all the better! I like grape or saladette tomatoes best for this salad. A saladette tomato can be plum shaped like a Roma, or round. They are small, about 1-1.5" in diameter, so larger than a cherry tomato but smaller than most slicing tomatoes.

3. 1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped or chiffonade. Lots of different herbs work well here. Some are even better in combination. Use whichever herbs you love! Here's what I used: chives, three kinds of basil (Genovese, lemon, Purple Opal), spearmint and bachelor button petals. Here's a great list from Treehugger of other edible flowers and how to use them safely.

Here are some other herb combinations to try: dill + garlic chives, summer savory + orange mint, tarragon + green onions (or shallots), lemon or orange thyme with lime basil, Greek oregano with rosemary.

Some herbs are stronger than others, so start with less and add more if needed. Extra herbs can be stored in a glass of water ~ they make a lovely bouquet!

(See photo below.)

4. Your favorite vinaigrette. I love this one from my Grilled Summer Veg Kamut Salad. If you're going to use balsamic vinegar, I recommend white balsamic. If you haven't seen it in your grocery store you can purchase it here. You'll get the great flavor of balsamic without the dark brown mucking up the cucumbers.

NOTE: There are only a few reasons I will peel vegetables:

  • They were not organically grown and are on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Dirty Dozen list. See sidebar for more information about EWG, the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.

  • I want to create a design by partially peeling.

  • Life happened and the vegetables are beyond prime but still useable.

These cucumbers fell into the third category. At least the skins can go into the compost bucket to enrich the gardens in the spring.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. According to their website, their mission "is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment."

For more than a decade EWG has analyzed USDA chemical tests conducted on 48 types of conventional produce. Pesticide residues are recorded by type and amount in both washed and unwashed fruits and vegetables. From these reports a list of the 12 dirtiest and 15 cleanest items are made available to the public.

If I need something I'm not currently growing myself and my budget won't stretch enough to allow for the purchase of all organically grown food, I focus on the dozen most contaminated items. Here's a link to the most current Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen List. If you'd like to learn more about how the EWG conducts their research, read here.

It's important to note that many pesticide residues remain on conventionally grown crops even after washing and sometimes even after peeling. Ongoing concern over pesticide residue, particularly organophosphates, remains even after major restrictions of organophosphate usage occurred in the early 2000s. Pregnant women and young children are at higher risk for negative health outcomes from pesticide exposure. Read current research here and here.

The bottom line: whenever possible buy organically certified food or buy from a farmer who consistently uses organic growing practices. Focus particularly on the Dirty Dozen list. Wash all produce carefully. Peel any produce grown conventionally. Enjoy eating more fruits and vegetables every day!

Picked or bought more herbs than you needed? Keep them fresh in a jar of water and enjoy a beautiful bouquet until you need them. Change the water every few days and you'll have fresh herbs to use for a week or more. This bouquet contains coriander flower, dill, Thai basil, calendula, bachelor buttons, borage, purple opal basil and summer savory.

When you make this, let me know how it turned out. Be sure to take a photo and tag me #chefcatherinebrown. I love seeing what you make!

Disclosures: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products that I trust and use.

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