Speaking of gardens, it just started cooling off here, and my basil plants are doing well. It reminded me of my favourite summer salad to make, a fresh and happy glowing mess of tomatoes and cucumbers, feta, and basil, with a generous drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Of course, it helps to have some lovely summer ingredients.
I had this salad at a friend’s place the first time I went to France. She went into the kitchen to make it and emerged minutes later with glorious deep purple tomato chunks all mixed in with beautiful Thai basil leaves. Maybe it’s because I was awestruck by France, but at the time it was the best thing I’d ever tasted. Since then, I’ve made it most summers. Sometimes I switch up the kind of tomatoes, using cherry tomatoes or brightly coloured Farmer’s Market tomatoes, or use Thai basil instead of regular basil, but it always comes out delicious.
I also like to add a special ingredient that my friend brought back for me from Istanbul, where she goes every summer with her husband (and her adorable baby– I’m an auntie now!). I’ve found that drizzling sour pomegranate syrup into the mix makes for a stunning tang and a lot of rich flavour. You can also find this kind of sour pomegranate syrup in some Indian or Middle Eastern markets. Be careful to get the sour, and not the sweet kind.
The nice thing about this salad is that it tastes better as it sits and marinates. I always make a big bowl of it and stick it in the fridge for me to plunder from over the next few days. Hope you enjoy, and stay cool in whatever hot weather you may have! May you glow with happiness just as much as the summer tomatoes do.
Tomato Cucumber Feta Basil Salad
(Leftovers? Check out the next life for this delicious salad here)
- 3 medium tomatoes (I prefer on the vine), halved and then sliced
- 1 large cucumber, halved and then sliced
- 3/4 cup fresh crumbled feta cheese
- 8 leaves fresh basil, chopped into thin strips
- ~2 TBS olive oil (I do it by eye, to preference)
- ~1 TBS balsamic vinegar or just a light drizzle of Turkish pomegranate syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently to combine. Don’t stir too hard or you’ll break down the tomatoes and the salad will become mushy. I prefer to drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top last to make sure it permeates everything.
Let rest in fridge for an extra refreshing cold salad.