Good Food, Good Life, 365 – Super Simple Summer Salad/Appetizer
- 1 English cucumber (this is the long, seedless variety sometimes referred to as European cucumber)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
- 3 tablespoons garlic & chives cream cheese spread
- 2 to 3 tablespoons Italian vinaigrette (from the bottle or homemade. *Recipe in the Tips below.)
- Fresh basil, for garnish
Cut ends of the cucumber and peel. Cut cucumber in half the long way. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with about 1/4 teaspoon of salt, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to up to 2 or 3 hours.
Remove from refrigerator. Dump into colander. (Do not rinse salt from the cucumbers.) Let drain for about 30 minutes. Place the cucumber slices on a clean kitchen towel. Pat dry. Transfer to a glass mixing bowl.
Add cherry tomatoes. Drizzle Italian vinaigrette over the cucumbers and tomatoes. Gently toss to coat. Place in refrigerator to marinate for a couple of hours. Overnight is fine.
When ready to serve, spread a generous layer of garlic & chives cream cheese over the bottom of the serving dish/platter. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the marinated cucumbers and chives from the bowl to the top of the cream cheese layer. Cover the cream cheese completely. Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil.
Serve with crostini, crackers, or crusty bread as an hors d’oeuvre or serve as a salad.
*This is my favorite Italian vinaigrette to use in the recipe:
- 1 chubby clove garlic, minced (you’ll want about 2 teaspoons minced garlic)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning blend
- 3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
This vinaigrette is based on the 3-2-1 formula: 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons acid (in this case lemon juice and red wine vinegar), and 1 tablespoon sweet. It’s a good place to start. Add seasonings and taste to make adjustments that are just right for you.
Remember the cream cheese mixture we made for the Herb Garden Rollups a couple of weeks ago? That works deliciously well for this recipe.
Toss the marinated cukes and tomatoes, along with some of the vinaigrette they’ve marinated in, together with some fresh greens for a super simple salad. Add small dollops of the cream cheese mixture over the salad and voila! A super simple summer salad. Or, add fresh mozzarella pearls to the salad rather than the cream cheese mixture. So good!