July 11, 2013

Tomato Cucumber and Red Onion Salad with a Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette

Ah, summer. Since I've been eating real food, my eating habits tend to flow with the seasons...meaning, whatever is in season, I'm likely going to be eating it. Summer is usually filled with lots of fresh veggies that are perfect for a cold, easy-to-make, salad on a hot summer night. Grilled meats and veggies and cold salads -- that is my summer menu. Every day.

This is a pretty typical combination that I'm sure you've had before. Tomatoes and cucumbers go together like peanut butter and jelly or bread and butter (well, I don't know anything about that anymore...the bread, not the butter) or maybe beans and rice. I don't know. Whatever you think goes well together. You get the idea. This is my version of a Greek salad that I typically throw together during the summer months. I like mine with fresh basil, thinly sliced red onions, and a very simple vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar and olive oil (with extra basil, just because). Plus, my newest addition that I've become obsessed with in the last few years has been added to this salad -- avocado. Because everything is better with avocado.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad with a Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette

Truthfully my salad doesn't usually look this nice, unless I'm making it for a group. I roughly chop and throw everything on my plate, drizzle on the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add a little garlic, salt, and pepper, and I'm good. So I made this pretty salad just for you guys. If you haven't tried this combo before, and you get tired of eating the typical lettuce-filled salad like I do, then make this before all the delicious summer tomatoes and cucumbers are gone. Adapt it to your taste and maybe add some olives, top it with cheese, or anything else you like. If you don't like or can't eat tomatoes and/or cucumber, then try the basil vinaigrette on your own summer salad creation.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad with a Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette

Here are a few other vinaigrette recipes to try: Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette and Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette (egg free). I think if I share a few more vinaigrette recipes, I might finally spell vinaigrette the right way, the first time. Maybe.

Tomato Cucumber & Red Onion Salad with Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette
Serves 4-6 printable recipe

Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette
Makes approximately 1/3 cup

What you need:

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 small clove garlic (crushed or finely minced)
pinch salt (more to taste)
pinch pepper (or to taste)

How to make:

Mince the garlic, add salt to minced garlic and smash it with the side of your knife to create a paste (or you can grate your garlic with a microplane grater). Mince the basil, then add all ingredients to a jar, close tightly, and shake vigorously. (I like mine tart with only 1/4 cup olive oil. Add 1/3 cup if you prefer a milder vinaigrette.) Alternatively, you add all ingredients except oil to your blender or whisk in a bowl. Slowly add oil until emulsified.

*You may not need full amount for the cucumber & tomato salad. If you don't want any leftover (which will depend on how you like to dress your salad), you can try half of the vinaigrette recipe for your salad. I like to make this amount and if I have any left, I use it for other meals.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad with a Balsamic Basil VinaigretteTomato Cucumber & Red Onion Salad

What you need:

4-6 small tomatoes, sliced, 1/4 inch wedges
3-5 small cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/4 - 1/2 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
10-12 large basil leaves, chiffonade or chopped (more or less to taste)
1/4 - 1/3 cup Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette (recipe above)
1 avocado, chopped or thinly sliced (optional)
Feta, goat, or other favorite cheese (optional)

How to make:

Slice your onions and cucumbers and pour about 1/4 cup of vinaigrette over them. Toss to coat and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes. Let this marinate while you are chopping everything else (or make this part ahead of time and add the rest before serving). Chop the tomatoes (discarding most of the seeds and juice) and basil and mix salad thoroughly. Add more of the vinaigrette to preference (you may not want to add all of it), reserving some for the table if you'd like. Optional: mixed in some chopped avocado and top with feta or goat or other cheese (I used dubliner this time) before serving.

Note: If you want to create a basil chiffonade, stack your basil leaves and roll them up, lengthwise, like a cigar. Using a sharp knife, slice the basil cigar to create thin strips. See this in pictures HERE.

Shared at: Allergy Free Wednesdays

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