The best time to make this salad is at the height of summer, preferably as soon as you’ve returned from the farm stand, farmers’ market, or your own backyard garden with an armful of fresh, fragrant tomatoes in tow. (Okay, tomatoes are really a fruit, but I think of them as a vegetable, and I’ll bet you do, too.) It doesn’t take much to coax the most out of these ingredients: A quick sherry vinaigrette with lemon juice and garlic does the trick.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
¼ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
6 medium-size plum tomatoes, cut into large dice
1 small red onion, cut into large dice
½ English (seedless) cucumber, peeled and cut into large dice
(about 1½ cups dice)
- Put the olive oil, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic in a large bowl and whisk them together.
- Season with the salt and pepper.
- Add the tomatoes, onion, and cucumber and toss gently but thoroughly.
- Divide the salad among 4 plates and serve or serve family style from the bowl.
Variations and Suggestions:
This salad is a perfect vehicle for crumbled feta, goat cheese, or blue cheese. Because this salad has many of the same ingredients as gazpacho—tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic, and red onion—it occurred to me to blend it up and see if I ended up with something like gazpacho, which after all is referred to as a “liquid salad” in Spain. With a little doctoring, like the addition of more olive oil to advance the emulsification and some jalapeño pepper for heat, it comes pretty close. There’s no bread in this gazpacho, which makes it a bit unorthodox, but it’s perfectly appropriate to our mission here.
For four servings, add the following to the salad while it’s still in the bowl: 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar; and 1½ teaspoons chopped seeded jalapeño pepper. Toss the salad and transfer it to a food processor. Pulse until it has the consistency of a wet salsa, then divide it among 4 bowls and serve. You can also blend the gazpacho in a standing blender but the result will be a more watery, less chunky gazpacho.