How to Make a Beautiful, Healthy, and Summer-Fresh Southern Cucumber Salad
So this is hands down one of my favorite summer salads. It’s fast, fresh, and good for you showcasing some of summer’s prettiest veggies.
- 1/2 large cucumber per person
- 1/2 Medium Large Tomato per serving
- 1/4 cup of Diced Vidalia Onion per serving
- Store-Brand Zesty Italian Dressing
- Fresh Ground Peppercorn Blend if you want an extra kick
If cucumbers are in season, I like to keep the skins on because they’re great for you. Once the season ends, the cukes in the store are usually waxed on the outside which helps them stay preserved and fresh. Once they get to that point, I peel the skins off because I find that creepy and weird. Check on the size and consistency of the seeds too when you halve it. Sometimes the bigger ones have nasty woody seeds that not everyone loves and you can choose to spoon them out and trash them if they’re like that. Your call.
Rough dice your cukes into ~1/4-1/2” cubes. No need to be fancy, just bite sized.
The star of this flavor show is the onion. You must must must get a sweet Vidalia onion to truly complete this southern masterpiece. If your store marks them as just sweet onions, seek one out that is 2-3 times fatter than it is tall. These are the ones where the layers are thick and developed which makes them sweeter. Since the onion is rough chopped in large pieces, other onions like yellow, brown or white are too “spicy” and they take over the salad ruining it.
Finally, the tomato. Like the onion, getting the right tomato is key to the flavor being perfect. Skip over the slicer, Roma tomatoes, and anything that’s really firm. All of these are bred for their sliceability and because of this, they tend to have a watered down tomato flavor. In the same thought, no grape tomatoes either. Cherry are ok if that’s what you have. I like the ones marked “on the vine” that are about the size of a lemon. They have awesome flavor. Don’t worry about cutting the tomatoes “pretty”, just dice them and toss them in.
Gently use a spoon to blend the three veggies. You can throw some fresh ground pepper on if that’s your thing as well.
Finally, the dressing. I’ve tried a butt load of store dressings and my favorite will always be the store brand Italian. Interestingly, Wal-Mart’s, Kroger’s, and Publix’s all taste exactly the same which means they’re probably all from the same factory. Make sure you get the oil based one and shake it good before using it. A couple of good squirts on the top is plenty.
Then eat it! See? Wasn’t that so easy! And it’s pretty too which is why the southerners love having this salad around. If any one of the veggie flavors is overwhelming (onion) or underwhelming (tomato), consider whether you chose the right ones. The hardest will always be getting real sweet Vidalia onions since other sweet varietals of onion usually don’t even come close. Just keep looking for the ones that are flatter and fatter than you think they logically should be. They produce fewer tears in slicing and you should be able to just eat a raw piece without wincing. True Vidalians eat them raw like apples!
Happy summer y’all!