Throughout the season, like most folks, our veggie choices shift and change. In the spring and fall, when lettuce and spinach are coming out of the garden like gang-busters, we eat a ton of side salads. But come the heat of summer, we have to get our veggies in without the help of lettuce. Sure, we could easily pop over to the store and grab a bag of romaine, but it seems silly to buy lettuce when so many great veggies are coming off in the garden. So green salads go by the wayside and we instead focus on ways to use up the pounds and pounds of cucumbers and tomatoes we are harvesting everyday.
This simple salad is actually probably way too simple to be called a recipe, but considering we’ve eaten this at pretty much every dinner for the past month, I figured it was probably time I shared it with you.
Like most simple recipes, the key to making this insanely flavorful is getting your hand on really great ingredients. I wouldn’t recommend making this in the middle of winter with hothouse tomatoes and cucumbers—you’ll be disappointed. This is definitely a summer-only recipe. Here, I’m using various heirloom tomatoes we’re growing, but any fresh tomatoes would do the trick, we’re just using heirlooms because I’m, honestly, a little bit obsessed with growing weird tomatoes. Hi, my name is Cass, and I’m currently growing 40 different tomato plants. I have a problem.
As far as the cucumbers go, I’m using a mix of regular, ole picking cucumbers and Armenian cucumbers here. Armenian cucumbers are quite possibly my favorite discovery of the 2013 growing season. They are huge. HUGE. One of them can last us for two or three meals. They are incredibly crispy, firm and just the best eating cucumbers I’ve ever had. These guys are made for cutting into slices and dipping in hummus. Craig even sliced some of these thin and grilled them up for dinner the other day, and they grilled beautifully. If you can’t get your hands on some of these beauties, English cucumbers or even just small pickling cucumbers will work great in this salad, too. You’re looking for cucumbers without a ton of huge seeds. And you definitely don’t want any cucumbers that have been on the plant too long and went bitter.
As with most simple recipes, this one is infinitely adaptable. We eat it “straight up” a lot as a side for dinner, but I love turning it into a panzanella for lunch, too. I just tear apart some hunks of crunchy bread to mix in with the cucumbers and tomatoes. The tomato juices, olive oil and vinegar soak into the bread. Mmm, so yummy! If I’m feeling particularly crazy, I’ll add some sliced black olives and shaved parm. Living on the edge. This would also make a rockin’ base for a cucumber caprese. Go heavy on the basil and toss in some fresh mozzarella balls. Yum!
Feel free to play around with the mix of herbs, I like this combo mostly because it’s delicious but also because these are what are growing in the pots out on our back deck. Convenient! Use whatever you have kicking around. It’s hard to go wrong with a big bunch of fresh herbs, regardless of what kind they are.