Summer is the time for dining al fresco and for enjoying lighter meals that showcase fresh produce from our gardens and local farmers’ markets. One of our favorite side dishes for grilled meats and vegetables is a simple salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions.
Cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions – these three ingredients form the base for a number of variations. My mother used distilled white vinegar and oil as dressing, and often added fresh basil if she had some. Change out the vinegar for citrus juices and add a little mint or parsley and you have a traditional salad Shirazi (Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad).
This crisp and vibrant salad is fun to play with. Let’s get started!
- 4 Persian or English cucumbers – chopped (see notes)
- 3 – 4 firm and ripe Roma (plum) tomatoes – seeded and chopped
- ½ red onion – chopped3 tablespoons fresh herbs – chopped (see notes)
- 1 lime – juiced (or more if desired)
- ½ teaspoon lime zest – minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt – or to taste½ teaspoon ground black pepper – or to taste
Place the base ingredients in a bowl and mix. Make the dressing in a separate bowl by adding whisking the ingredients together. Add the dressing and mix just before serving.
Note on Cucumbers
If using a traditional store cucumber, peel the skin and remove the seeds before chopping.
Note on Herbs
Traditionalists recommend adding a teaspoon of dried mint to the salad, although a tablespoon of fresh mint does very well. I usually add a mixture of fresh parsley and mint, but feel free to add basil, cilantro, or dill if you have it available. Let your palate guide you.
We usually serve this salad as a side to grilled meats. To keep the theme, our Syrah would be a tasty accompaniment.