Wednesday, September 16, 2009

tomato cucumber salad & relish

A taste of summer! This is best with luscious farmer's market produce, with full flavor. Do NOT make this in the winter with those horribly pallid tomatoes that are shipped thousands of miles after being picked green and bred to be long-lived rather than have any flavor. Really.

*tomato, diced
*cucumber, peeled (unless the peel is soft & not waxed) and seeded if the seeds are bitter, halved sliced (or chunked); (Persian cucumbers are splendid here, English hothouse are fine; if you use the typical supermarket cucumber then you probably need to peel and seed it)

Prep these and mix them together. If serving as salad, make larger chunks. If using as a relish on a sandwich, then chop more finely.

I usually use a ratio of about one tomato to one cucumber, but it depends on what I have on hand, how large they are, etc. Totally a judgment call.

Then add in:

*lemon juice or rice wine vinegar** (could also use lime juice) - maybe 1 T per 1 large tomato/cucumber, but it's really to taste (start with 1 T and add if necessary)
*salt (sea salt is always better than that iodized crap)
*pepper (freshly ground)

Other add-ins if you desire:
*olive oil (if there's no fat in whatever else you're eating at the same time, please put in a glug of olive oil. Without fat, bodies can't properly access lycopene and other wonderful nutrients)
*onion (red or sweet like Walla Walla or Vidalia are probably best), minced or sliced very thinly in half-rounds
*fresh mint chopped finely (I wouldn't put in much because it will overtake the flavors)
*fresh basil chopped finely (ditto); actually just about any fresh herb: oregano, tarragon, parsley
*garlic minced or pressed (then it's just juice and you don't get a big bite of garlic)
*cheese: a fresh mozzarella or feta goes nicely as well
*bell pepper
*Greek olives

Put everything together and let it sit for the flavors to meld. Tomatoes taste best when not refrigerated so I leave it out for a couple hours before eating. Does keep well in the refrigerator for a few days.

It's great on hummus sandwiches.

** Rice wine vinegar has a really nice mellow flavor - not vinegary at all. It's what I usually use unless I have lemons/juice to use up.

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