Growing up, I remember cucumber and tomato salad being on heavy rotation at barbecues. Whether or not it’s actually Southern, I can’t really say. A quick Google search shows a few variations on it, but then also some Italian roots as well. The Lee Brothers don't cover it in their seminal Southern cookbook, which makes me question whether my memory is real at all. Wherever it came from, it was a staple in southwestern Virginia circa 1993-2002 at the very least. Back then, it was usually just veggies and a bottle of Italian dressing. This is nearly just as simple, but with herby-ness and acidity that you wouldn’t necessarily find on the K&W salad bar. Eat it with something grilled or smoked, or just on its own in big heaping spoonfuls.
½ red onion
1 c rice vinegar
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
¼ tsp black pepper, plus more to taste
2 English cucumbers
2 large tomatoes
3 stalks celery, sliced thinly on a diagonal, leaves included
1 c flat-leaf parsley leaves, loosely packed, roughly chopped
1 c basil leaves, loosely packed, roughly chopped
Slice red onion into thin half-moons and add to a small bowl along with the rice vinegar. Let set for at least 15 minutes (store extra in a jar in the fridge for up to 1 month).
In a large bowl, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, and pepper. Whisk the oil and vinegar together until there is no more separation between the two liquids (Emulsification! Woohoo!).
Take the English cucumbers and peel them. Slice off the ends and cut the cucumbers into 2-3 manageable pieces. Split each piece lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. This is an important step to make sure your salad does not become too watery! Cut cucumbers into ¼-inch half-moons. Add to the bowl of vinaigrette.
Halve the tomatoes from stem to bottom and remove the core with a knife. Cut each half into 5 slices, and then cut each slice down the middle. Remove the seeds using your hands. Add to the bowl of vinaigrette, along with the celery and chopped herbs.
Toss the salad until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve alongside grilled or barbecued favorites for the ultimate in summer nostalgia.
Allergens: No major allergens