I never imagined myself wanting to sit down and eat a whole cucumber at one sitting. A few slices on a salad was about all I could do in the past. They just didn’t do much for me.
And I hate pickles. Can’t do them there, either.
However, I am now pleased to announce that I have developed a fine appreciation for this little vegetable, and it is all because of the delightful Caprese salad.
In the past, I thought a Caprese salad was little more than tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and some basil leaves. Then my sister mentioned that she and her husband were going through lots of cucumbers from all of the Caprese salads they were making. I was intrigued, and filed a mental note.
My cucumbers never grew this year because my garden has been thirsty, neglected, and drought-ridden, but a friend gave some to us, and I decided to pull that Caprese salad idea from my mental filing cabinet. I cubed up mozzarella and tomatoes, sliced a cucumber, chopped some fresh garden basil, and threw in some EVOO and salt.
I liked it well enough, but the family was unimpressed.
I didn’t realize that the kind of cucumber I used wasn’t the best choice for raw salad eating, but better for pickling. It was a larger one, as well, and had a tougher rind and seeds that the family found disagreeable. Handsome Hubby ate the concoction, but picked the cukes out when eating the leftovers.
Though the family didn’t rave over it, something in me said that I needed to try again. So I did, and I added a special ingredient that turned a ho-hum Caprese salad into a magical delight. Well, perhaps not magical, but it certainly is yummy!
I sliced a small cucumber, the kind with a thin dark skin that doesn’t need taken off. See the little seeds? Yes, that’s much better.
Then I added my chopped tomatoes. Today’s version uses cherry tomatoes. I just picked an abundance from our garden, and many are cracked from a big rain we had recently. They need eaten, and I’m glad to help.
Next, the cheese. Buy the real mozzarella that is white, round, and squishy. Or if you are really amazing, make your own. Said sister makes hers sometimes and says it is easy. I’m all out of the mozzarella, so today I’m using some Gouda. No, it’s not the same, but it will work for today. I like to cube it up rather than simply slice it.
Now for the ingredient that pulls it all together and makes me want to eat a bowl of this salad every day: pesto! Rather than just using torn basil leaves, a spoonful of pesto adds a fabulous kick of flavor. How could it be wrong? Basil, garlic, salt, cheese, olive oil… oh my. It’s really, really, really good.
I still like to drizzle on some olive oil to help the pesto go ’round. Mix that goodness up, and you are all set to enjoy a wonderful delight of gardening season. Hurry and make some before there are no more garden tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil!
Caprese Salad with Pesto
Equal parts sliced young cucumber, chopped garden tomato (or cherry tomatoes), and cubed mozzarella cheese
Prepared pesto (Never made pesto before? Try here for an easy start.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
In a bowl, combine cucumber, tomato, and cheese
Add pesto according to taste preferences (Pesto is concentrated in flavor, so a little goes a long way. I like a teaspoon or two in one bowlful of salad.)
Drizzle EVOO over all, and stir until pesto is mixed throughout.
Voila! I think this would make a lovely light dinner sometime with some tuna or chicken tossed in with homemade crusty bread on the side. Try it and tell me what you think!