Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer Tomato & Cucumber Salad

Last night I thought I had it all figured out about what I was going to post for today... I have this wonderful chicken salad that one of my residents begged her daughter to share with me (who I in turn share it with every time I make it), and I just made a fresh batch of it so that I could take pictures. I bought some fresh croissants from the bakery. Everything was planned out. And then today happened!
Like the crazy person I am, I agreed to work for one of the girls this morning. But, it was only a four-hour shift, so it wasn't so bad... At 10:30, I finished that shift and started walking home when I came across someone setting up a garden-fresh produce stand on the route I take! There were baskets and baskets of fresh, red, ripe tomatoes... Baskets of fresh zucchini... Fresh cucumbers (the great farm fresh kind that aren't covered in wax)... Watermelons... And all kinds of other stuff that I know I'm missing! Admittedly, the cucumbers and tomatoes caught my eye and grabbed my attention right away, so I didn't really have eyes for much of anything else today. The only thing stopping me from buying a whole crap-ton of vegetables right then and there was that I only had $7 in my pocket... So, I settled for 2 cucumbers, at a lovely price of 2 for $1, and 3 very large tomatoes, at $2 a pound.
I didn't even know what I was going to do with my treasures right away - there are so many things I want to make with the fresh produce that I was having a hard time picking just one! Should I make some yummy BLTs?! With a Creamy Cucumber Salad? That sounded wonderful! But, as delicious as that sounds, there is ONE thing that sounded even better, especially because I haven't had it since last year - Tomato and Cucumber Salad!! It's so easy, yet so delicious! My only regret... It was so good that I ate it all in one afternoon/evening and now I have none left until I go back and get some more veggies! :'( Maybe I should just triple the recipe... ;-P
This is one of those recipes I have in my arsenal which was inspired by something else. I used to work at a nursing home that made a very similar salad, and I liked it so much that I decided to try making it myself. I might be a little biased, but I think mine tastes much better! Hmmmmmm... Perhaps because I am so awesome?! :-P Most likely, I think it's because I only make it in the summertime, when fresh produce is at its peak and readily available. If you've never had a real garden-fresh tomato, you NEED to go find your local farmer's market and grab yourself some real tomatoes! I can't even describe how much better the flavor is compared to what you buy in the store... They are just AWESOME!!

Look at these! You can just SEE how much better they're going to taste!!

3 large, ripe tomatoes
1 large or 2 small cucumbers
1/2 medium purple onion
2 Tbsp. dried parsley (or use fresh if you have it)
Zesty Italian salad dressing

Core the tomatoes, chop into large chunks, and place in a medium-sized bowl. Peel the cucumbers and cut them lengthwise into quarters; slice to medium thickness and place in the bowl with the tomatoes. Dice the onion and add that to the bowl. Sprinkle dried parsley on top of everything, crushing a little bit to help release the flavors of the herb. Pour Italian dressing over everything until it makes a nice sauce for the vegetables to bathe in (I used approximately 3/4 of a bottle of dressing) and stir to combine. Let the salad rest for at least an hour, to marry the flavors, before serving.

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