Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Ok so 3 things about this recipe:

1. This is a bit of a throwback to my childhood.  My Mom used to make this all the time when I was a kid and it was definitely my favorite salad.  She would simply toss diced cucumber and tomato with Wishbone's Zesty Italian Dressing and call it a day.  As a working mom of two, I will certainly cut her some slack but here I make my vinaigrette from scratch and while doing so, I stumbled upon an amazing dressing.  Which brings me to my next point...

2. This is an accidental "copy cat" recipe.  Like I said, I've always loved this salad and one afternoon when I was at Noodles & Company, I ordered it as a side.  It was a tiny little bowl of cucumber and tomatoes in an amazingly sweet and tangy dressing that I INHALED because I loved the dressing so much.  "What's IN this?" I kept wondering as I ate.  But I couldn't figure it out!

I ordered the salad from then on, but it wasn't until the other week when I decided to make my own cucumber and tomato salad that I finally figured it out.  As I looked in my pantry to make a vinaigrette, I realized (amazingly enough) I had tapped out of all of my vinegars except for one: Rice Vinegar.  I grabbed it, smelled it and figured it would be fine.  I combined it with the ingredients listed below and when I tasted the salad I screamed (In my head): NOODLES & COMPANY!!  That's their secret: the rice vinegar.  And hey, maybe I'm wrong but this tastes just like their version and I found it equally addictive.  Not only did I inhale a few servings, but when I served this for some friends, it disappeared then as well.

3. Lastly, I just wanted to say that even though it may seem like I'm serving you a summer salad right at the beginning of fall, I'm doing this because now is the perfect time to to make it. The other week when I decided to make this, it was because my Mom STILL has tomatoes coming off her vine and probably will for the next few weeks.  If any of you grew tomatoes this summer or have friends or family that did, you may find yourself with an abundance NOW.  And let's be honest, we can get tomatoes year round but I found that when a bag of tomatoes was forced upon me, this was the perfect way to use them up so that they wouldn't go bad.  I hope you enjoy! Oh and if you found yourself suck with a few little green tomatoes, I've got a great recipe for those HERE.

Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Ingredients: (Makes approx 6 servings)
5 medium Tomatoes, 1 inch dice
1 large English Cucumber, 1 inch dice
1 cup Red Onion, 1 inch dice, layers pulled apart
1/2 cup Rice Vinegar
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Dill Weed
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon White Sugar
1 teaspoon White Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber and red onion.  Then, in a smaller bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, dill, salt, sugar, pepper and garlic powder.  Pour vinaigrette over the veggies in the large bowl and gently toss to combine.  Cover bowl with saran and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  The longer this sits, the better it gets.  Just make sure to give the salad a fresh toss right before serving. 

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