This salad is a little taste of summer before summer arrives.
I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago from ingredients I had in the fridge. I discovered that using cocktail-type tomatoes come closest in flavour to end of summer, vine-rippended tomatoes.
Well, it was close enough in taste. When you taste a truly fresh, sun-tippened tomato straight from the vine (if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, or a quality farmer’s market), you know that nothing can compare to the intensity of flavour.
This salad was a rather pleasant surprise. I love whimsical, spur-of-the-moment, tasty accidents! The combination of flavours in the cucumber tomato strawberry salad made me feel like summer was here, even though it was only late April in Toronto and it was still bloody cold outside.
There are so many varieties of tomatoes that bring different flavours to different dishes and cooking styles.
Roma tomatoes are a favourite for making a classic tomato sauce, but they wouldn’t work well in this salad.
Beefsteak tomatoes (but only vine-ripened, not hydroponic) are good enough to eat right out of your hand, but are also the kind of tomato that you want to highlight in a dish. They do well in any type of salad (and I intend to make this salad come August with fresh beefsteak tomatoes). They pair beautifully with bocconcini cheese and a quality Balsamic vinegar. You need to have them sliced thick on top of a thick, juicy burger right off the grill. For the truly courageous, cut a thick slice of beefsteak and enjoy it on a dense whole wheat bread with all-natural peanut butter and coarsely ground pepper – YUM!
DAMN! I got my own mouth watering writing out all those serving ideas. But enough chatter, let’s get to the good stuff!
A few notes on the ingredients
I used the cheapest “canned” parmesan cheese you can get – the type that’s finely ground and is really salty, but it works so well in this salad. If you use freshly shaved parmesan, or even a parmesan-romano blend, grate some onto the top of the salad before serving. Also taste for salt if using fresh cheese – the canned parmesan is definitely much saltier so you don’t need much additional sea salt (which you could omit entirely).
This salad came about as a result of what was in the fridge and what needed to be eaten before it went off. So if you have tomatoes or strawberries that are over-ripe, or just on the edge of getting soft, they’re perfect! You’re chopping everything up so you don’t need perfect looking ingredients.