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Cucumber tomato salad with pesto brings everything that is great about summer together in one dish. This no-cook dish is ideal for cookouts and potlucks.
Every year, I plant a garden full of optimism. Each year, it is slightly different.
At our old house we did square foot gardening for a year or two. At the new place, we installed smaller, yet taller garden beds, with a trellis attached to one.
Gardening feels peaceful and productive, and yet I tend to need to set a phone reminder to get out and weed (and sometimes water — oops).
I don’t think I’m alone in that; considering the invention of timed watering for homes. Even when I know I’m not taking care of the garden, I think it’s going to magically turn out perfectly, with a bounty to take care of.
This year it has come true, at least a tiny bit. We planted nothing in our middle garden bed, and thanks to fruit that dropped last summer, volunteer cherry tomato plants quickly sprouted up.
Each day I have to pick at least twenty cherry tomatoes to stay ahead.
The other surprise? My first-ever cucumber plant.
I didn’t have strong expectations, but as it turns out, cucumbers are the easiest thing I’ve ever grown. I’d almost call them a scourge at this point, considering we’ve made two batches of pickles, gave pounds and pounds away, and still have more each day to deal with.
(Side note: did you know cucumbers have tiny spines on them that stab your hand when picking? They come off easily with a vegetable brush, but it was still a shock the first time I grabbed for a ripe cucumber. Wear [amazon_textlink asin=’B0733B2726′ text=’gardening gloves’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’stetted-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’829e663a-7e5c-11e8-8eba-3b56a15bde8f’]!)
The good thing about cucumbers is that they’re perfect for summery salads. They’re so fresh and crisp that when eating cucumbers, they make you just feel, well, a bit fresh and crisp yourself.
This cucumber tomato salad with pesto is an excellent side dish for summer cookouts and potlucks. It uses homemade pesto sauce and fresh mozzarella for a salad that people will actually want to eat alongside their burgers.
Tips for Making Cucumber Tomato Salad with Pesto
When I made the recipe for the photos, I used a Armenian cucumber from my produce delivery box rather than my garden cucumbers.
Armenian cucumbers are technically not cucumbers at all, but taste very similar. Of course, your standard cucumber will do for this recipe!
I recommend using small-ball fresh mozzarella in cucumber tomato salad. You can find them labeled as either “pearls” or “ciliegene” and come either vacuum-packed (as pictured) or in a tub with liquid. The size is perfect for salads.
If you can’t find the smaller size, however, just buy whatever size you can and cut into bite-size pieces. Fresh mozzarella only, please!
Cherry or grape tomatoes are perfect for this dish. All you need to do is halve them.
The pesto will coat cut tomatoes better than whole ones, so be sure to cut even if your tomatoes are already bite-size.
I used a mix of cherry and grape for variety of size and color. Larger tomatoes will work in a pinch, cut into wedges or slices.
Make the cucumber tomato salad a few hours ahead of serving and store covered in the refrigerator. This will help draw some of the juices out of the fruit and let the flavors meld. As long as your cucumbers are fresh and you don’t cut them too thin, the salad will stay crisp, not soggy!
If you still find yourself with a surplus of cucumbers or cherry tomatoes, try using them in tortellini pasta salad, homemade sirloin banh mi sandwiches, homemade cheese with roasted tomatoes, or pesto chicken caprese pasta.
Cucumber Tomato Salad with Pesto
- 1 pound cucumbers, sliced
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 shallot, diced
- 8 ounces mozzarella pearls
- 1/3 cup pesto
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- Pinch salt
- Combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, shallot, and mozzarella in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the pesto, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
- Pour the pesto mixture over the vegetables and toss gently to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.