Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cucumber Tomato Salad with Walnuts

This is an invention of my husband's aunt Margaret. She made it for family dinner last summer and we all raved. It appeared again this year and I begged for the recipe. She kindly obliged and I promptly adapted it. There was nothing at all wrong with her version, I just tweaked based on our tastes and what was available. I could eat gallons of this salad and one of the best things about it is how well it keeps. I can make it at the beginning of the week and enjoy it in my work lunches til Friday (if it lasts that long).

We like the walnuts in the recipe, but I was thinking of adaptations for a friend of ours who is allergic and realized that toasted pine nuts would likely be really good. I'm going to try that version as soon as I get some pine nuts...

One of the great things about this recipe is that it's easy to scale it up and down if you think about it in parts: 1 part cucumber to 1/2 or 1 part diced or slivered tomatoes, 1/8 to 1/4 part nuts or other savory firm or crunchy ingredient of your choosing, then dressing to taste.

DRESSING INGREDIENTS
1-3 cloves garlic, finely minced or in bigger pieces if you've got people who want to fish them out
2-3 TBSP white wine or champagne vinegar
1-2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
Pepper if desired
2-4 TBSP olive or other oil (walnut oil, for example, could be really lovely to pick up on the toasted walnuts, or avocado oil if you want something more neutral)

SALAD INGREDIENTS
2 cucumbers, peeled if desired, and cut into half moons or diced
1 large handful (half a dry pint maybe) cherry tomatoes, any color, quartered
You're looking for about roughly equal parts cucumber and tomato once they've been cut up, but if you like tomatoes more, add more, if you want to favor the cucumber, add more of that
1/2 c walnuts or pine nuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 c chopped parsley (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Raw garlic gets stronger the longer it sits (thanks Cook's Illustrated), so if you're going to enjoy this salad over a few days, it's a good idea to let the garlic soak for five to ten minutes in the vinegar. The acid will help keep the garlic in its place. So, mince your garlic and place it in a small bowl with the vinegar and salt and pepper (the vinegar will also dissolve the salt). Leave for a few minutes while you cut up the vegetables or toast and chop the walnuts
  2. Prepare the veggies and nuts and place in a large bowl
  3. Stir the vinegar and garlic mixture and then whisk in the oil slowly to emulsify
  4. Pour the dressing over the ingredients in the large bowl and gently but thoroughly combine
  5. Refrigerate until needed, at least a half hour would be best to let the flavors combine. Adjust seasoning to your taste



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