Tomato, Cucumber and Mozzarella Salad

It seems I’m making this recipe all the time due to the lovely tomatoes and cucumbers currently flowing from my garden. But actually I happily make this salad any time I have access to good tomatoes, garden or not. It’s always refreshing, shining on its own as a quick lunch or nicely accompanying most entrées, especially during summer grilling season.

I began making a variation on this theme (which I highly recommend) a few years ago after watching Adi Amar from YogaToday making a salad of tomato, cucumber and avocado with lemon juice and olive oil like her grandmother made in Isreal.

Delicious salad and fantastic yoga teacher. Thank you, Adi!

This recipe is different to Adi’s, but still refreshing. Mozzarella takes the place of the rich avocado and the dressing is a lemon dijon vinaigrette with finely minced garlic, which I love in most salad dressings because it lends a fresh, savory note to the sharp vinegar.

The type of mozzarella I’m using is the fresh, water-packed variety. Mozzarella comes in many forms, the most common in America being the vacuum-packed version where the excess water is sucked out before packaging, producing a firm, dry cheese akin to a pasteurized cheddar or gouda. The mozzarella I have is a cow’s milk cheese, but I highly recommend the buttery tang of mozzarella di bufala, made from buffalo milk. It’s usually imported and more expensive, but there’s no mozzarella quite like it.

Water-packed soft mozzarella is key to this recipe because the soft cheese will crumble slightly and dissolve into the other ingredients, creating a soft sensation and rich flavor its firmer sibling just cannot provide.

Ingredients

4-6 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 oz water-packed mozzarella cheese
1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tsp dijon mustard
1 small clove of garlic, finely minced
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: 3 Tbsp finely chopped basil or cilantro

First, make the marinade by combining the lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil, a pinch of salt  and a twist or two of black pepper. Mix it together with a whisk or a fork until the mustard is fully dissolved into the juice and oil.

I like to use a vegetable peeler to slice my cucumber as thin as possible. When the cucumber is wispy thin, it absorbs the marinade and becomes a kind of fresh pickle, but without the tart taste we usually associate with dill pickles. It remains crunchy, but not so much that it overwhelms the texture of the tomatoes and mozzarella.

Chop your mozzarella into small pieces and add to the cucumber, then add the chopped tomatoes. Stir everything together then taste for salt. Add more salt if needed, give another whir of black pepper and an extra drop of olive oil, then serve to your adoring fans.

 

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