You barely need a recipe for this garden-fresh summer salad that will round out a broad range of meals, from corn on the cob and burgers to grilled chicken and fish.
Normally, my husband would consider dinner incomplete without some form of protein on his plate. However, when corn on the cob is in season, this is not the case.
His favorite summertime meal is effortless: corn on the cob with a side of the following tomato and cucumber salad. And no meat means more room for his much-loved seasonal vegetables!
The best part of this “recipe” is that exact measurements are not required, although I do provide a framework to get you started. Simply chop the amount of tomatoes and cucumber needed based on the number of people to be served, and then add a healthy dose of fresh basil and red onion.
On occasion, I forego the vinaigrette and drizzle the salad with an aged balsamic vinegar and some crumbled feta. My mother-in-law prepares a similar salad, adding celery and substituting mayonnaise for the vinaigrette. A dollop of mayo will blend with the natural tomatoes juices and create a tasty dressing.
However, there’s beauty in the easy dressing I most frequently use–and happily, you have options.
A store-bought packet of Zesty Italian mixed with balsamic vinegar is a shortcut that delivers flavor and convenience. The do-it-yourselfers among us may enjoy mixing up this recipe for Homemade Zesty Italian Dressing Mix. One batch will yield three “packets” that may be stored in a cupboard until needed.
The homemade alternative will also come in handy for those who have (or are cooking for someone with) a soy or gluten allergy or intolerance, as the store-bought package contains wheat and soy.
I usually peel and seed large garden cucumbers but skip that step with small pickling cucumbers and thinner-skinned, nearly seedless English cucumbers. When available, a mix of produce size and variety offers appeal. I often use a mix of vine-ripened tomatoes and halved cherry or grape tomatoes.
You may sliver, dice, or mince the red onion according to preference. If you find red onions to be too pungent, try soaking them in ice water for 10-15 minutes and then draining well before adding to the salad. This way, you can enjoy the flavor with less bite. Optionally, you could substitute sliced green onions and/or snipped fresh chives.
For a delicious alternative to buttering your corn, try rolling the corn in the dressing that drifts across your plate, and then sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper. Yum!
As mentioned, this salad plays well with nearly any protein, from burgers to chicken, fish, and steak. You could even add white beans to the salad for an all-in-one, plant-based meal. Served on the side, a grain of choice would soak up the flavorful vinaigrette. Crusty bread will do the same.
Alternatively, you could enjoy the tomato and cucumber salad as part of a salad medley for a light, no-cook dinner on a warm summer night. Options abound, but chicken salad and black bean salad are popular around here.
One final idea is to enjoy this garden-fresh salad as a flavorful counterpoint to a simple bowl of rice and beans. Let the vinaigrette seep into the rice and beans (and top with some chopped avocado for good measure) for a rustic, plant-based meal that’s sure to satisfy.
Again, you may use the store-bought shortcut, or try the copycat vinaigrette recipe linked below.
- Red onion
- 1 (0.7-ounce) packet Good Seasons Zesty Italian salad dressing mix (mixed according to package directions using balsamic vinegar)
Chop or slice the tomatoes into bite-size pieces. If they are very juicy, drain in a colander for a few minutes or gently squeeze some of the seeds and juice out so the dressing does not get watered down. Transfer to a large bowl.
Peel the cucumbers, if desired. I often leave the skin on. Cut in half long ways and, with a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Slice into semi-circles or quarters. Place in the bowl with the tomatoes.
Peel and chop or slice the onion. I use about a quarter of a medium onion, cut into thin slivers.
Stack the leaves from several sprigs of fresh basil on top of one another. Roll the stack of leaves, and slice in thin slivers. I use about a half cup of basil. Again, add more or less according to taste.
Drizzle with approximately one-quarter cup of the dressing. Toss and then add a little more dressing, if needed. Serve with corn on the cob and call it dinner!
Recipe first posted August 7, 2013. An original picture…we enjoyed the tomato and cucumber salad with corn on the cob then and still do now. Sometimes, I roll the corn in the vinaigrette from the salad instead of butter. : )