When cherry tomatoes and cucumbers ripen so quickly they need to be picked daily, I eat some version of a tomato and cucumber salad every day too. The juicy little tomatoes pop with a sweet flavor I crave all winter. In my garden, the cherry-size collection extends beyond the red supermarket standards to include Sungold or low-acid Yellow Pear tomatoes, a childhood favorite. Each year, I also grab an heirloom Black Cherry tomato plant from Swan River Gardens; these larger, dark purple tomatoes have a deep, rich flavor, and the lineup makes a colorful mix.
Cucumbers that are slightly too big for pickling can work as slicers if you catch them before they become bitter. As onions approach their full size, I trim their green tops and use them like scallions.
My daily “salad” might land in an omelet or quesadilla, stuff a baked potato or get tossed with cubed sourdough bread for panzanella. Sometimes I simply drizzle the vegetables with balsamic and oil; other times, I make a quick vinaigrette with red wine vinegar or lemon juice.
One of my favorite meals uses last week’s Zucchini-Basil Pancake recipe as a wrap for Tomato-Cucumber Salad. If I’m eating solo, I might tear the pancakes into pieces and use them to scoop up the salad, like injera with an Ethiopian meal. When I’m lazy, I skip the dressing, just drizzling a little soy sauce and rice vinegar to taste over the vegetables. But the zucchini pancake and fresh salad pairing tastes best with a fully flavored dressing. The portions work for a single meal, or you can make a larger batch of dressing and store it in the fridge for several weeks.
Tomato-Cucumber Salad with Asian-Inspired Dressing
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, white and/or black
1 small cucumber (about 3 ounces), quartered and sliced
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
green tops from 1 onion, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup basil, slivered
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
4 teaspoons sunflower or other neutral oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
In a small jar or measuring cup, combine the minced garlic and lime juice; to mellow the garlic’s bite, let it sit while you prep the salad ingredients.
In a dry frying pan over low heat or in a toaster oven, toast the sesame seeds for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently; transfer to a small plate to cool. In a medium bowl, place the cucumber and tomato pieces.
Add the tamari and vinegar to the garlic-and-lime mixture, and then stir in the honey, shaking or whisking until it dissolves. Add the sunflower and sesame oils and shake or whisk again until the ingredients combine.
Drizzle about half of the dressing over the vegetables. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, onion tops and basil, and then toss gently to mix. Add the remaining dressing to taste. Serve immediately.
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