Cucumbers continued, part 2

Here is another recipe for using the cucumbers harvested from my Oakland garden.

Idea 2: Greek-ish salad with tomatoes, avocado, and red onions.

This salad is very popular with my family in the summer. I can often come up with most of the ingredients after a quick trip into the garden. The avocado is my own addition, not really necessary or classic. But my personal feeling is that almost everything is improved with the addition of avocado (or goat cheese). My introduction to this salad was in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where there is a large Greek fishing community. My family used to go to Paul’s for boiled peel-and-eat shrimp with Greek salad. They didn’t use avocado in their salad but did serve it with a wedge of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, black olives, feta, and a single pepperoncini. Their dressing was heavy on the wine vinegar and dried oregano. I always gave my mother the pepperoncini.

Greek Salad

Greek Salad

The ingredients can easily be adjusted to what you have on hand, don’t worry about being exact. I used 4 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, half of a thinly sliced red onion, some pitted Kalamata olives, and one avocado. Finely chop some fresh oregano and add it to 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar with a teaspoon of salt, whisk in about ¼ cup of olive oil. This is quite a tart dressing but the avocado adds it’s own richness to offset the vinegar. Taste the dressing as vinegars vary a lot in their tartness. Toss the salad with the dressing a few minutes before serving to let flavors meld. Add some fresh feta or goat cheese, yum!

4 tomatoes, cut into pieces

2 peeled cucumbers, halved, seeds removed if large and sliced into ½ inch pieces

½ red onion, sliced

1 avocado, sliced 

small handful of Kalamata olives, pitted and halved (about ¼ cup)

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

optional: cubed feta or goat cheese

Variation…if you have some stale bread on hand you could tear it into bite sized pieces and toss with the other ingredients. If so you will need more dressing since the bread will absorb a lot, and maybe more salt. Taste as you go. You would end up with a panzanella, or bread salad, which could be an entire meal with some cheese on the side.

Variation 2…in the mood for gazpacho? Leave out the olives and avocado, add 1/2 cubed red pepper and 1/2 jalapeño (seeded and chopped). Pulse everything in your food processor till soupy. The tomatoes and cucumber should add enough juice but you could add a bit of water if needed. Check for salt and pepper. Serve with a few slices of avocado on top of each bowl.

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