This has become my salad of the summer. More specifically, this basil vinaigrette has become my salad dressing of the summer.
I love basil. When it’s in season at the farmers market I come home with a big bunch of it every week. I, like most people, usually use it to make pesto or sprinkle shreds of it over panzanella or caprese or a simple pasta with olive oil and tomatoes or pizza Margherita.
But I had never before blitzed it with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar into a light and verdant vinaigrette.
I was missing out.
I’ve been drizzling it over everything.
In addition to the basil, some of my other late summer favorites have come into season. Tomatoes are finally here along with some incredible varieties of cucumbers. I especially like the long green Japanese cucumbers, the muted orange oblong poona kheera cucumbers, and the pale yellow orb-like lemon cucumbers. These varieties are all sweeter, crisper, and juicier than the cucumbers I tend to find at the supermarket. Though they look quite different, you can treat them like you would any cucumber–just peel and slice.
I love the way the crunch of the cucumbers plays off the juicy tomatoes and the vibrant vinaigrette and the creaminess and tang of the crumbled feta.
I’ve already made this four times in the last two weeks, which might be a record for anything other than pizza. And I have another bunch of basil waiting on the counter just tempting me to make more.
Tomato Cucumber Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
For the basil vinaigrette:
- 1 leaves big handful basil about 1 to 1 1/2 cups
- 1 clove of garlic peeled
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
- 2 medium cucumbers peeled, halved, and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes quartered (or halved if extra small)
- 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbled
- a generous pinch of your favorite salt
- Make the vinaigrette. In the bowl of a food processor (or in a blender) add the garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, red wine vinegar and salt. Pulse until the garlic is finely minced and everything is well blended. Add the basil and pulse until combined. (If the basil isn’t cooperating, add some of the extra virgin olive oil to help things along.) With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil, and blend until the mixture is emulsified. (If you’ve overdone it with the basil and the mixture looks too thick to dress a salad, add a little more olive oil to thin it out.) Set aside (can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days).
- Make the salad. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Season with a pinch of salt. Add a few tablespoons of vinaigrette and toss until the tomatoes and cucumbers are well coated. Add more vinaigrette, a little at a time, until it’s dressed to your liking. Add the crumbled feta, and stir until well distributed. Taste to see if it needs more salt (this will depend on your feta). Serve immediately.