Minty Cucumber and Tomato Salad

It’s SO hot! I have loads of baking recipes I want to try out, but I think putting on the oven today might actually kill us.

We’ve been having lots of salads in this hot weather and this one is cool cucumber with sweet cherry tomatoes, peppers and cooling mint. I really like to make my chilli and cucumber salad too, but this with the mint is super cooling on yet another hot day.

Minty tomato salad1

When I add cucumber to a salad, I always scoop out the wet seeds. I never peel them either; I think the nice green skin is the best bit.

This is a very colourful salad with red and yellow peppers and sweet cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes tend to be nice and sweet all year round, so this is a good recipe for anytime. Feel free to add in some thinly sliced red onion too, that would work well here – IF you like eating raw onion that is!

This super simple recipe can be made more substantial by adding cubes of cheese, such as feta, or served as a side salad, alongside some grilled fish or chicken. It’s quite portable too, so a very good salad to take on a picnic.

I don’t like to add too much dressing to this, but extra can be served on the side.

Ingredients:
1 cucumber
1 pack of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper

Dressing:
2tbs olive oil
1tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs lemon juice
10 mint leaves, finely chopped
Tiny pinch of salt and pepper to taste

To serve:
Extra mint
Cubes of eta cheese (optional)

Method:
Halve the cucumber lengthways and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, then slice and add to a large bowl.

Chop the cherry tomatoes into halves, or quarters and add them to the cucumber slices.

Cut the ‘cheeks’ off the peppers, leaving the core and seeds behind and slice and dice, before adding to the bowl.

In another small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together.

Minty tomato salad

Pour over enough dressing to moisten the vegetables and scatter over a little more mint if desired. This is really good with the addition of feta cheese to make a really colourful and cooling summer salad.

Chilli and Cucumber Salad

This is based on a salad I had at the School of Artisan Food in Welbeck, Nottingham. It was a summer side dish that I thought was so fresh and refreshing and made from the simplest of ingredients. I knew I had to make it at home.

Chilli cucumber salad

I couldn’t get the taste quite the same, so the next time I went I asked what was in the dressing. They didn’t give me the exact recipe, but they did tell me it contained white balsamic vinegar, something I hadn’t tried before. I went home and tried various dressings until I came up with the one below.

I’ve used fresh and zingy mint and coriander here, but it works just as well with dill.

For extra crisp cucumbers, I have tried salting and using ice water but I normally just make this and eat straightaway.

I have all the ingredients chilled ready in the fridge as it tastes best eaten cold on a hot day.

Ingredients:
1 large cucumber
1-2 red chillies – depending on heat
10 mint leaves, rolled and very finely shredded, plus a little extra for the top
Small bunch of coriander/cilantro, leaving some aside

Dressing:
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Chilli cucumber salad1

Method:
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl.

Slice the cucumber lengthways and using a spoon, remove the seeds slice into semicircles.

Slice the chillies lengthways and carefully remove the seeds and white membrane and very finely chop.

Toss everything in a bowl and add enough dressing to moisten. Place in your serving bowl or platter and scatter over additional herbs.

This is a lovely salad to serve with grilled fish, chicken tikka or lamb kebabs and flatbreads.

Cucumber salad close up 2

Panzanella

Originally a Tuscan summer peasant dish made with tomatoes, lots of red onion and soaked stale bread.  This is a very loosely based version and uses toasted cubes of sourdough, no capers and the onion is toned down too, making it more child friendly.

Panzanella2

I’ve had some very bad Panzanella salad in the past with mushy wet bread and sludgy ingredients.  Great, if that’s your thing, but I wanted the fresh summer flavours of the original, without the sludge!  I love sourdough bread, especially toasted sourdough bread!  I thought how good cubes of toasted bread would be with all the other vegetables and dressing. Its super easy to make and I really like to take this salad to work with me too.

Ingredients:
1 red pepper – cut into cubes
1 yellow pepper – cut into cubes
Assorted cherry tomatoes – halved
Cucumber – cut in half lengthways, de-seeded and chopped into half-moons fairly thickly
Small bunch of basil leaves
Small sourdough loaf cut into cubes, or any other French crusty loaf, preferably a day old.
¼ cup olive oil

Dressing:
5 Spring onions/scallions, very finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbs white wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Heat oven to 180°C/350°F.  Evenly coat the bread cubes in the oil and spread out on a sheet pan.  You can either do this with your hands or use an oil sprayer if you have one for an even distribution.  Toast in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until crisp, turning a couple of times.

Mix together the peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.  Then stack the basil leaves on top of one another, roll them up like a cigar and slice into thin ribbons (chiffonade).  Add the shredded basil to the vegetables, enough dressing to moisten and toss everything together together.

Great for a summer lunch and perfect for a lunchbox.