To me, ripe cherry tomatoes are like candy and that’s saying something, given my sweet tooth. When I saw red and orange cherry tomatoes at the farmers market on Saturday, I eagerly grabbed both kinds. I can eat them plain, popping them in my mouth with great abandon, but I also love them in salad.
This combination is appealing because it is simple, light tasting, and colorful. I added yellow pepper for extra crunch and color; orange or red would work equally well. I wouldn’t use green pepper for this recipe because it has a sharper taste than the other varieties. If you like a slightly sharp edge, add a finely chopped scallion.
The keys to this salad are great tomatoes, crispy cucumbers, and flavorful but mild vinegar. I used white balsamic vinegar. (It is milder and a lighter red color than red balsamic.) Good quality sherry vinegar would also work. For my taste, red wine or red balsamic are not right for this salad – they overpower the mild taste of the vegetables.
The salad is best if it sits for at least an hour or two in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld together. If you leave it overnight, the juices tend to increase and the cucumbers and diced peppers will be a bit less crunchy, but still wonderful.
You can double or triple this recipe; the only change in ratios is to go light on the dressing, using less than 2 or 3 times the oil and vinegar until you let the salad rest and taste it after that.
Cherry Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Servings - 2-3 generous side salad portions Cost - $4.50 (when tomatoes in season)
- 1 heaping cup of cherry tomatoes, preferably mixed colors
- 2 small (Kirby) cucumbers or 1 cup diced from large cucumber
- ½ of a yellow, red, or orange pepper diced
- 2 heaping tablespoons of shopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- Kosher or coarse sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Cutting board
- Knife, preferably serrated edge (serrated & smooth shown above - ridges on the former make it easier to cut tomatoes)
- Vegetable peeler
- Measuring cup (optional)
- Measuring spoons
- Bowl for mixing
- Wash and dry all the vegetables.
- Cut the tomatoes in half. I prefer cutting them on the side, i.e. not through the stem joint (small dot where tomato used to be attached to the vine), but it’s just a matter of aesthetics. If your cherry tomatoes are larger than mine, you might quarter them.
- Peel the cucumber skin off in a striped pattern, again for aesthetics. Cut the cucumbers in half length-wise, then dice (cut in smaller pieces in the opposite direction), so that cucumber pieces are approximately the same size as the cherry tomato halves. If you use a large cucumber, scoop out most of the seeds using a spoon and half each long slice, in order to keep the pieces bite-sized.
- Cut the pepper in half, and make slices out of one half, taking off any white parts and rinsing out seeds. Dice the slices into pieces slightly smaller than the tomato halves.
- Mix all of the vegetables.
- Wash the parsley, take off stems, and chop it finely. Add the parsley to the salad.
- Add the oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. After the salad sits for 1-2 hours, if the tomatoes are not naturally sweet enough, sprinkle in a bit of white sugar.