When it comes to choosing good foods to eat in the heat, salads are at the top of my list! This summer salad is a twist on the classic cucumber and tomato salad by adding creamy avocado and the freshness of fresh cilantro. Replacing the vinaigrette is a light and flavorful lemon dressing that is bright, lively, and pairs perfectly with the avocado. The result is a cool, refreshing, and delicious salad that makes a great side dish to any meal or zhooshed up with protein for a light main course. As is, this salad checks a whole lot of boxes for health and nutrition. It is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, and keto-friendly. It’s got plenty of vitamins, fiber, and flavor to keep everyone happy.
This no-cook recipe requires about 10 minutes of prep, but that’s all there is to it! It takes less than a minute to whisk the dressing and gently toss the salad. I recommend letting the salad chill for about 15-20 minutes in the fridge to allow the flavors to get friendly. It’s easy to adapt this recipe to feed four or even eight people by simply doubling or quadrupling the ingredients. I used a regular cucumber, as they are plentiful and available at my favorite roadside stand. If you don’t care for cucumber seeds, slice the cucumber in half length-wise, scoop out the seeds with a spoon before dicing, or use an English seedless cuke.
Grape tomatoes, packed with flavor, are quick and easy to slice in half. Cherry tomatoes are also a quick slice. Larger tomatoes (plum tomatoes or garden-grown) can also be used but will require more slicing as they need to be quartered or diced. Use care when choosing the avocado for this salad. It needs to be ripe but not too soft. It needs to be firm enough to easily be removed from the skin (rind) and diced without smooshing. I usually buy my avocados on the green side, and when they reach the ripe stage, I put them in the fridge until I’m ready to use them. The refrigerator stops the ripening process and keeps the avocado in pristine condition for a couple of days.
Cilantro is one of those herbs that people love or hate. I, personally, love the fresh flavor it adds, but I know that it’s not for everybody. Fresh dill or basil will also impart that bright freshness, an essential element of this salad. Red onion adds color as well as flavor and is not as harsh as a white onion. That said, use whatever kind of onion you have in your pantry. I’ve used sweet onion and green onion when I didn’t have a red onion.
Place the prepped veggies in a salad bowl and gently mix them. Then it’s on to the dressing. This bright dressing is lemon juice, olive oil, and seasoning whisked together in a measuring cup or small bowl. There’s no comparison between freshly squeezed lemon juice and bottled lemon juice. If it’s at all possible, use fresh. If it’s not possible, bottled lemon juice will work, and no one is going to know the difference. Pour the dressing on the salad and gently toss. Let the salad chill out in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to fully develop the flavors.
There are so many ways to zhoosh up this salad. You’re only limited by your imagination and pantry/fridge! If you like subtle heat, add a few drops of hot sauce or a shake of chili powder to the dressing. Add a jalapeno or serrano pepper if you want in-your-face heat. A sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese or crumbles of blue or feta cheese is an easy way to add more flavor and color. To make the salad a little more filling, I like using red kidney beans or chickpeas — they fit in well with the other ingredients. Topping the salad with grilled fish, chicken, or steak turns this salad from a side to the main course. Bottom line, you can’t go wrong with a summer salad!
Avocado, Cucumber and Tomato SaladCourse: Salads, SidesCuisine: Vegan, Keto-FriendlyDifficulty: Easy
This summer side is a twist on the classic cucumber and tomato salad by adding creamy avocado and the freshness of cilantro. Replacing the vinaigrette is a light and flavorful lemon dressing that is bright, lively, and pairs perfectly with the avocado.
• ½ large cucumber, diced
• 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
• 1 ripe avocado, diced
• ½ red onion, sliced
• ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
• 1/2 lemon, juiced (1½ tablespoons)
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Prep: Slice then dice cucumber. Halve the tomatoes. Slice avocado and carefully remove stone. Scoop out inside and dice. Peel and slice onion. Chop the cilantro.
- In a medium bowl, combine and gently mix the cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, onion and cilantro. In a measuring cup or small bowl whisk the lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil until combined. Pour dressing into bowl with the veggies and gently toss to combine.
- Refrigerate 15-20 minutes before serving.
- Cilantro: substitute dill or basil
- Onions: substitute green onion or yellow (sweet) onion
- Cucumber: Seedless English cucumbers are great in this salad
- Grape Tomato: Substitute: Cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes. Dice larger tomatoes.
- Lemon juice: Fresh is best but bottle lemon juice is fine!
- Zhoosh it up: Turn up the heat by adding a few drops hot sauce or ground chili powder. Add grated parmesan cheese or crumbled blue or feta cheese. Add color, texture, fiber and protein by adding dark red kidney beans or chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Add grilled chicken, shrimp or steak for a filling main course dish.