Broccoli is polarizing. I know fully-fledged adults who will only touch it if it’s buried under a blanket of melted cheese, or raw and dunked in a vat of ranch dressing. And I get it. Broccoli is often overcooked, mushy, and bland. And a lot read more
It feels like it’s almost too hot to eat these days, let alone cook. That’s where this Cucumber Tomato Salad comes in. Summer produce at its peak doesn’t need much in the way of embellishment, but a quick dressing with some umami rich favorites keeps this out of run of the mill salad territory. Juicy tomatoes, crunchy and cooling cucumbers, drizzled with a tangy and nutty dressing…this is what you need when you can’t even fathom turning on the oven.
Although this salad features cucumbers and tomatoes, you could easily swap out the veggie combinations for either what’s in season at that point, what’s in your fridge, or what you prefer. So avocados and radishes, roasted cauliflower or eggplant, blanched green beans or bean sprouts, or even some crumbled tofu stirred in are all good options. Can’t stand the heat but still need to eat? Forget the stove and let’s get chopping!
I start making my Cucumber Tomato Salad by washing and prepping the veggies. I usually reach for the long, thin European cucumbers or the smaller Persian ones. Both of them are more crunchy and less watery, which will keep your salad from turning mushy, and they also have thin unwaxed skin that doesn’t need to be peeled.
For the tomatoes, get whatever looks good. Large heirloom tomatoes, or smaller grape/cherry ones will all work here. Unlike the rest of the country, Florida grows in the winter, so my tomatoes are simple grocery ones. I prefer brown kumamotos which are widely available, juicy, and flavorful.
Since this is such a speedy simple dish and we do eat with our eyes, I take care to compose my Cucumber Tomato Salad in an appealing way on a nice platter or deep bowl. This one was made by my dad during his ceramic phase. This salad can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated. Keep this salad undressed as the dressing will quickly be diluted by the watery veggies if tossed ahead of time.
The Tomato Cucumber Salad Dressing
It’s really this dressing that elevates this salad into something you’ll be craving all through these warm days. For kids and adults who may frown at vegetables, a great sauce or dressing can really turns things around. Fresh and interesting flavors can help motivate those who are unenthusiastic. And we need to break the ranch crutch. So until you can get your table-mates excited for your veggie masterpieces, keep it fresh by introducing different kinds of vegetables with new flavors.
For this dressing, the workhorse is sesame. Sesame seeds feature prominently in Asian cooking and a deep roasted sesame flavor is particularly prized by Japanese palates. You’ll see all sorts of sesame dressings and sauces lined up at the grocery store and gourmet food sections in department store basements. Our dressing pairs freshly toasted sesame seeds with toasted sesame oil, ginger and garlic to bring a little zing, plus rice vinegar and soy sauce which provide a refreshing tanginess. Even though I always buy already toasted sesame seeds, I toast them for a few minutes again because nothing beats that freshly toasted aroma and flavor. Don’t skip this step as you’ll be richly rewarded.
I like to coarsely grind the sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle, keeping some good texture and grit for the dressing. There’s something so satisfying about using these old fashioned pieces of kitchen equipment. Grinding the sesame in this way allows you to do it more slowly, letting you see your progress, and also gives you control over small quantities that may be more difficult to work with in large food processors or blenders. Finally, a mortar and pestle releases the oils in the seeds better.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can also make this dressing in a blender or food processor. Place all of your prepped ingredients into the work cup and blend/process until you have a thick dressing.
Normally with other Asian cuisines, the flavors are more robust and bits of garlic and ginger are appreciated. But Japanese food embraces subtlety, so I use a Japanese style grater to get the ginger and garlic silky smooth. You can also do this manually with a knife and chopping board, but keep mincing until your garlic and ginger are extra fine.
The veggies can be prepped, and the dressing made ahead of time, making this salad even more of a perfect summer staple. Keep the Cucumber Tomato Salad and dressing separate until serving though so the cucumbers stay crunchy and the veggies don’t get discolored. My preference is to just serve the dressing at the table so everyone can help themselves. If the dressing has been sitting for a while, give it a quick stir.
I hope this Cucumber Tomato Salad inspires you to get back in the kitchen for at least a little while this summer, and enjoy a cooling and healthful meal. Take a minute to let me know what you think, and of course don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
For the Salad:
- 1 European cucumber or 4 small persian cucumbers
- 2 large tomatoes- or a mix of any kind is fine, about 2 cups.
- ¼ red onion
For the Dressing:
- 4 tablespoons Toasted Sesame Seeds
- 2 teaspoons peeled and grated ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced fine
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 4 Tablespoon light colored soy sauce (regular is fine too)
- 4 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
- Wash the cucumber. Trim the ends and then cut it in half lengthwise and slice it diagonally into chunky bite-size pieces.
- Wash the tomatoes and then cut them in half and then into wedges, slices, or attractive chunks.
- Slice the red onion into very fine pieces. Rinse the onion in a colander under cold running water and then drain the water completely. Set aside.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a clean dry pan over medium heat for several minutes. Be sure to stir the sesame seeds to keep them from burning.
- Put the sesame seeds into the mortar and grind using a back and forth motion. You want a coarse grind where some of the seeds may still be whole.
- Add the ginger, garlic, sugar, light colored soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil to the mortar bowl. Stir to combine and then transfer to a small pitcher or serving container.
- Divide the cucumber mixture into four individual bowls or one deep platter. Top with the tomato and the red onion. Serve the Cucumber Tomato Salad immediately with the dressing on the side.
*Even though the sesame seeds are already toasted, I like to re-toast them in the skillet. This step brings out more of the toasty, nutty flavor.
*I like to keep the dressing separate until serving since it will draw water from the veggies and you will end up with a very runny unattractive looking salad.
*You can make all of the components ahead of time and covered until ready to serve.
Keywords: salads, tomato, cucumber, summer, sesame seeds,
How many times have you heard, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? Now….how often do you actually eat breakfast? Yeah, me too. It’s just a lot to expect a person to get up and do everything they have to do to get ready for the day, AND make something worth eating. But I have found that if I have something ready to grab and go in the fridge, that I can quickly load with fun and yummy toppings, I not only will eat breakfast but I will actually look forward to it. These Overnight Oats fit the bill. They are jam packed with healthy ingredients like oats and chia seeds that energize me throughout my busy day, with a flavor that has taken a delightful detour through the tropics.
Coconut Milk Overnight Oats
I’ve tried various overnight oats recipes over the years, but found them a little bland and boring. Using coconut milk as the dairy base was a game changer! It transforms the oats and chia into a lush, pudding like consistency. Let’s face it, oats are a blank canvas and they need to be infused with flavor to prevent them from tasting like cardboard, and coconut milk does the trick!
Then I let the mixture sit for a few minutes, and stir again. Otherwise all the chia seeds sink to the bottom, but if you wait a few minutes they start to thicken and when you stir them again they will more evenly disperse. The chia seeds are what help overnight oats set, so you want to make sure they are well mixed.
Now they just need to be covered and put in the refrigerator overnight. And then the fun can begin!
Overnight Oats Toppings!
Coconut chips, bananas, and chopped dates are my favorite toppings for these. The chips add crunch, the bananas continue the tropical island party, and the dates are fun and chewy. Overnight Oats are perfect for any nuts or fruits you want to add, but this combo is hard to beat. I’ve seen some recipes that add the toppings the night before, but I prefer to have fruit that’s freshly cut for the best flavor, color, and texture. I like to really lean in to my toppings and add a generous amount to each serving. Go big or go home, right?
Add a layer of dates on top of the bananas:
Finally I add a generous pinch of coconut chips:
Enjoy your Overnight Oats right away, while the bananas are still in pristine form. Try these and let me know what you think, I want to hear if these cured your breakfast blues too. Leave a comment here or tag us @funkyasiankitchen!
For the oats:
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk or coconut cream
- 14 ounces water
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup or to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
- ½ cup chia seeds
For the topping:
- 3 bananas
- 12 dates
- 1 cup crunchy coconut chips, nuts, or anything crunchy
- Combine the coconut milk, water, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in a container.
- Stir with a fork.
- While stirring, add the chia seeds and the oats.
- Let the mixture sit for a couple minutes and stir again.
- Pour the mixture into 6 containers (the containers should only be filled half way since you will need space for the toppings).
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Pit the dates and chop them into small pieces.
- Peel and chop the bananas.
- Top with the dates, bananas, and coconut chips.
- Serve your Overnight Oats immediately.
*I like to put the overnight oats into plastic lidded containers and store them in the fridge. Top them with fruit only when ready to eat to keep the banana from turning brown.
Keywords: breakfast, chia, oats, overnight oats, gluten free, fruit, bananas, make ahead, snacks