Today I’m sharing my prettiest salad, my Tomato and Cucumber Summer Salad, so easy that you’ll make it over and over again. It is the perfect way to celebrate the abundant and beautiful produce of summer.
There is nothing better than homegrown tomatoes warm from your garden, but these days grocers are finding high quality heirloom tomatoes – my favorites. To make this salad, I use ripe plum tomatoes. They are evenly sized, have very few seeds, and are close to the same diameter size as cucumbers. This makes it so easy to lay out the concentric circles.
I have my share of complicated recipes, but often my favorites are the simplest. These are the ones that I turn to over and over, making them so often that I never need to look at a recipe. I have made this salad for many years, often for casual get-togethers with friends. The simplicity of this salad lets the luscious flavors of field ripened fruits and vegetables shine!
To make it a little prettier, add flavor and color, I mince chives or green onions and sprinkle them on top and often add chopped fresh herbs. You can use simple parsley, or try fresh thyme, a touch of rosemary, or some oregano to add pops of flavor. This is where fresh herbs really shine. If you grow herbs in your kitchen window or garden, this is the perfect opportunity to use them. Grab your scissors, clip of a couple of sprigs and sprinkle the leaves over the top. Easy peasy! 🙂
I love that I can get the salad all sliced and laid out, then cover with plastic wrap and tuck it in the refrigerator. Just before I’m ready to serve, I season the vegetables, drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with the onions, and pop it on the table while I finish up the rest of dinner. It gives the dressing time to soak into the vegetables and I always have a pitcher of extra dressing on the table in case anyone wants more (that’s usually me LOL).
Of course, you don’t have to present it the way I do, most restaurants serve the tomatoes in wedges with chunks of cucumbers, and diced red onions. You can do the same and just add your favorite dressing. It can’t be any easier!
Be sure you slice the tomatoes a little thinner than you normally would so the slices lay flat and fairly even on the plate. I use what’s called a tomato knife that makes slicing tomatoes a dream. If you only buy one quality knife, this would be the one I recommend (along with a chef’s knife and a paring knife of course, LOL).
Enjoy the beautiful produce of summer with this simple, easy, and delicious Tomato and Cucumber Summer Salad!
Key Ingredients for Tomato and Cucumber Summer Salad:
- Fresh lemon juice and vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh thyme leaves or dried thyme
- Large ripe tomatoes
- Chives or green onions
Want a shortcut? Use a high-quality store-bought vinaigrette type of salad dressing if you don’t want to make your own from scratch. You can use any of your favorite flavors, but a simple vinaigrette lets the flavors of the tomatoes and cucumbers shine.
Why do you peel the cucumbers?
It is optional, but I prefer peeled cucumbers because the peels can be tough. You can also peel it in strips, creating a striped pattern that is very attractive and a good compromise. Either way, be sure you wash the cucumbers before cutting!
Plum tomatoes (also called Roma, with an elongated oval shape) have fewer seeds and are a good choice for salads. But if you can find them, my preference will always be heirloom tomatoes, full of true tomato flavor and great texture.
How to make Tomato and Cucumber Summer Salad:
- Make the Dressing: In a jar with a tight lid, whisk the shallots, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper; then whisk in the mustard
- Add the oil and thyme, put on the lid and shake vigorously until emulsified; can be made several days in advance
- Make the Salad: Cut the tomatoes and cucumbers into 1/4-inch-thick slices; arrange in concentric circles alternating like in the photos
- Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle the top with chives or green onions; serve at room temperature
Being able to serve this at room temperature makes this a great option for buffets, picnics, and summer barbecues.
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe (affiliate links):
If you are using a store-bought salad dressing, be very careful to look for hidden gluten. Some of the sweeteners they often use can contain gluten ingredients. It’s always safest to make your own from scratch.
- 1 small shallot, peeled and minced (use half if they are very large)
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Pinch of kosher or fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried
- 4 large ripe plum tomatoes or round heirloom tomatoes
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Finely chopped green onions or chives
- Make the Dressing: In a clean jar with a tight lid, combine the shallots, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until the salt is fully dissolved then add the mustard and whisk to combine. Add the oil and thyme, put on the lid, and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds or until the dressing is emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- The dressing can be made up to several days in advance. Shake well again before drizzling over the salad.
- Prepare the Salad Ingredients: Rinse and cut the ends off the tomatoes. Cut into about 1/4-inch thick slices. Peel the cucumbers and cut into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Finely chop the onions or chives.
- Assemble the Salad: On a large plate, starting at the outside, make a circle with the tomatoes around the plate laying each one slightly over the last one. Then just below the tomatoes, add a layer of cucumber slices. Repeat with remaining tomatoes and cucumbers in overlapping concentric circles.
- Grind some pepper over the top and add a little more salt if needed. Shake the dressing well and drizzle lightly over salad. Sprinkle with the chives or onions and serve. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 206Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 176mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g
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This recipe is part of Food Network’s weekly Summer Soiree Fest celebration. See the links below for this week’s inspiring recipes and check out our Pinterest page for even more ideas!
Feed Me Phoebe: Steamed Clams with Chorizo, Tomatoes and Kale
The Mediterranean Dish: 10 Fresh Tomato Recipes with a Mediterranean Twist
The Mom 100: Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Homemade Delish: Roasted Tomato and Poblano Salsa
The Wimpy Vegetarian: Easy Summer Tomato Tart with Artichoke Spread
Devour: Praise Caprese with 6 Twists on Tomato Salad
Healthy Eats: How to Use Up Your Last Batch of Fresh Tomatoes
Creative Culinary: Fresh Tomato Summer Pie
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Classic Caprese Salad
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Tomato, Peach & Melon Salad
Taste with the Eyes: For Tomato Lovers Only
FN Dish: The Best Fresh Tomato Recipes You to Make, Like, Right Now
This post was first shared in Aug 2016. The article was updated in 2020.