Italian inspired, this tomato, cucumber and avocado salad is one of our family favorites. It’s so tasty and so addictive that you just want to eat more and more of it.
We make this salad all year round, even during winter. I often hear tomato and cucumber salads being labeled as ‘summer’ salads. I couldn’t disagree more, unless you think of them as a piece of summer during cold winter days.
You have to taste this salad to know why it’s so special. The base recipe for this salad supposedly originated in Italy and had been passed down from generation to generation for many years. Everything in this salad seems to be spot on and the resulting flavors are fabulous. You don’t eat it because you have to, you eat it because it entices you, it makes you want to have more of it. This salad is a sibling of my other favorite salad – rustic tomato and cucumber salad.
Making the salad dressing
A typical salad dressing consists of a 3:1 ratio of oil to acid. That’s the first thing you learn when you venture into the realm of making your own salad dressings. In this recipe, I use a 2:1 ratio of oil to acid. I love it. This makes the salad fresh and bright. You have to remember though that not all red wine vinegars are created equal. Some are more acidic than others. I like more mellow kinds. Pompeian Red Wine Vinegar that can be found at pretty much any store is an excellent choice with a very well-rounded taste. Holland House Red Wine Vinegar is another excellent and inexpensive choice for a mild flavor and well-rounded taste.
Tips to help make best tasting tomato, cucumber and avocado salad
- This salad tastes especially good when made with fully ripe and flavorful ingredients, which makes it incredibly flavorful and delicious.
- The salad only gets better with time as different flavors in it meld together so let it sit at room temperature for a few hours if possible. The oil and the red wine vinegar have time to do their magic to the veggies.
- If the tomatoes aren’t ripe, leave them on a windowsill for a few days to ripen. They will soften up and become richer in flavor and color.
- The cucumbers should be fresh and firm. Try to avoid soft, overripe cucumbers and opt for firm and crisp cucumbers instead.
- Avocados should be ripe and just slightly soft. When cut open, they should be bright green in color without brown spots which are an indication of over-ripening.
You can serve this salad as an appetizer or a side dish, or as a meal on its own with a piece of crusty sourdough bread or French baguette. Use that bread to soak in every last drop of that delicious salad dressing. It’s so good!
- 4 tomatoes (medium size, fresh and ripe)
- 4 baby cucumbers (fresh and firm)
- 1 Hass avocado (ripe and slightly soft)
- 1/2 red onion (medium size, peeled and diced)
- 1/2 bunch fresh basil (rinsed, dried and finely chopped)
- 1 pinch granulated sugar
- 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 garlic clove (pressed)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 pinch black pepper (freshly ground)
- Core the tomatoes, cut in half, then cut each half lengthwise into 3 wedges. Then cut each wedge in half crosswise. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and give them a quick toss.
- Cut off the ends of the cucumbers. Using a vegetable peeler, make long stripes going top down. Slice into 1/4" thick slices slightly on the diagonal. Transfer to the bowl with the tomatoes.
- Cut the avocado in 4 quarters lengthwise and remove the pit. Gently remove the skin, then slice into 3/8" thick slices on the diagonal and add to tomatoes and cucumbers, along with the diced onion and chopped basil.
- To prepare the dressing, throw all of the dressing ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together vigorously, until well blended.
- Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss gently using both hands. You can serve immediately or cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until ready to serve. This salad only gets better with time.
This post post updated on June 1, 2019