This is a cucumber and tomato salad but it ain’t boring! Mix in tangy tamarillo, aromatic basil, creamy crumbled goat cheese and top with toasted panko breadcrumbs, you have a tasty salad worth sharing.
Why I Love Cucumber and Tomato Salad
When I see cucumbers and tomatoes in a salad, I immediately think of traditional Greek cucumber tomato salad recipe—one of the most popular and well known Greek dishes outside of Greece.
I was inspired by the fresh Greek salad components such as chunky tomatoes and cucumber together with a creamy cheese and mingled with an earthy but tangy oregano red wine vinaigrette as dressing.
However, I have definitely added my own twists to create a not so boring Cucumber and Tomato Salad.
First, I throw in tamarillo to dial up the tangy flavours and then balance with fresh basil and a savoury toasted panko breadcrumb topping.
Instead of using feta, I replace it with a crumbled goat cheese. Goat cheese is creamy, pungent and delicious in a cucumber and tomato salad.
Together, the result is a refreshing, not so boring plate of cucumber and tomato salad goodness!
Not So Boring Cucumber and Tomato Salad
When it comes to tossing together an easy salad, cucumber and tomatoes are generally top of the list of salad ingredients. And we understand why.
Both salad ingredients are readily available, not expensive to buy and provides fresh sweetness and delicious texture.
However, some people may perceive cucumber and tomato salads to be boring.
The same ol’ same ol’ as everyone makes similar chopped salads. Sliced cucumber, tomatoes and iceberg lettuce thrown together with an oily store bought dressing. Argh.
We are here to change that! With a few tips and tricks, it is very easy to transform the everyday cucumber and tomato salad into a tasty salad that is not so boring.
What To Put In A Salad
The general principle we follow to create delicious salads is to have a harmony of flavours along with pleasing textures.
When you have a savoury ingredient, mix it with something zesty. If the main show is sour, balance with some sweetness. Try ingredients you may not typically see in a salad. You may be surprised!
Cucumbers and tomatoes work well together because the crunchy, cool, fresh cucumber counterbalances the juicy textures and sweet, yet slightly acidic tomato flavours.
You can say they are a perfect match for tasty salads.
So what else to put in a cucumber and tomato salad that doesn’t make it boring?
I like to add flavours that give oomph next to the natural sweetness of the cucumbers and tomatoes.
- For added salt or umami: try olives, anchovies, capers, miso paste, halloumi or feta.
- To pep up the flavours: try a sprinkle of fresh chilli, jalapeno, red onions, rocket or radicchio.
- For extra crunch and texture: try radish, sugar snap peas, toasted panko breadcrumbs, walnuts or sunflower seeds.
- Foliage without iceberg lettuce: try spinach leaves or herbs like basil, parsley and mint all pair well with cucumber and tomatoes.
- Create more zest: Try more tangy fruits like grapefruit or tamarillo. You can also add zing through the dressing with different types of vinegars, citrus juice and zest like lemon and lime.
- Balance with cream: If you prefer a more creamier flavour, try ripe avocado, buffalo mozzarella, goat cheese, Greek yoghurt or a vegan toasted sesame dressing.
How to Prep Salad Ahead
You can easily prep all the salad ingredients ahead of time and then mix when ready to serve.
The salad ingredients like cucumber, tomatoes, tamarillo, basil leaves and red onion can be stored in one container.
Keep crumbled goat cheese, toasted panko breadcrumbs and dressing separately.
How to Make It A Meal
Our not so boring Cucumber and Tomato salad would be delicious on its own as the goat cheese and toasted breadcrumbs bulks the volume up.
Alternatively, it will match well with grilled lamb, barbeque chicken or even a vegetarian moussaka.
How to Make It Vegan
To create a vegan-friendly salad recipe, you can substitute the crumbled goat cheese with a vegan version or a Persian style vegan feta and omit the parmesan from the toasted panko mixture.
How to Make Cucumber and Tomato Salad
How to Peel Tamarillo
The first time I had tamarillo, I didn’t know you had to peel it first. I ate the tamarillo with the skin on. It was ok, slightly bitter, and I didn’t die. Ha!
However, it is best to peel the tamarillo before eating. And the best way to remove the skin is to submerge it in hot water.
Make a small cross at the bottom of tamarillo and place in a large heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over the tamarillos until they are fully submerged in water. Leave in hot water for about 3-4 minutes.
Remove tamarillos and run under cold water. The skin where you have cut would have curled a little. Use a sharp knife, peel the skin back and remove.
Cut the tamarillo into 6 wedges. Set aside.
Tamarillo is a seasonal fruit and may not be available at your local greengrocer. If that is the case, I would substitute tamarillo for either green tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes.
They are both not as tart as tamarillo but add variety and a different texture to the cherry tomatoes in the nut free salad.
How To Prepare The Rest of The Salad
Wash cherry tomatoes and slice in half.
Wash cucumbers, cut into 4 quarters and slice into 1cm rounds.
Remove basil leaves to yield ½ cup.
Thinly slice red onion into half moons.
Remove marinated goat cheese cubes from its packaging and break into smaller pieces with your fingers or a fork to make crumbled goat cheese.
How to Prepare Toasted Panko Breadcrumbs
For this recipe, I used panko breadcrumbs.
What is panko? Panko originated from Japan and is a flaky type of breadcrumb. The main difference between panko and regular breadcrumbs is the texture and the kind of bread used. Typically panko is made with white bread without any crust.
I love using panko for my crumbed dishes because it has a light and delicate texture that helps it crisp as it cooks. If you don’t have panko, that is ok. Regular breadcrumbs would work in this recipe too.
Over low-medium heat, place panko breadcrumbs, crushed garlic, lemon zest and grated parmesan in a large frypan. Gently dry toast until golden brown.
Remove toasted panko from heat.
How to Make Oregano Vinaigrette
In a mason jar, add red wine vinegar, dried oregano, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and shake until combined.
How To Assemble The Salad
In a large mixing bowl, add cucumbers, tomatoes, tamarillos, sliced red onion, basil leaves and half of the crumbled goat cheese.
Dress cucumber and tomato salad with oregano vinaigrette and gently toss together. I want the goat cheese to coat some of the ingredients, but I don’t want the goat cheese to create a gluggy mess.
Place dressed salad on a large serving platter and top with remaining crumbled goat cheese. Just before serving, scatter toasted panko breadcrumbs on top.
Fresh, crisp cucumbers, juicy sweet tomatoes, tangy tamarillos, aromatic basil, creamy marinated goat cheese and delicious toasted panko breadcrumbs all mingled together delivers a salad that is not boring at all.
This salad would be utterly delicious as a meal itself or as a side dish with grilled lamb, barbeque chicken or vegetarian moussaka.
So next time you have cucumbers and tomatoes in the fridge and would like to put together a salad, think outside of the box a little using our tips and create a plate that is full of oomph and not so boring!
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Ingredient Pairing Ideas
If you’d like to create your own salad and have an ingredient you’d like to hero, we have some great pairing suggestions to help you work out what flavours go well together.
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Cucumber and Tomato Salad
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- Make a small cross at the bottom of tamarillo and place in a large heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over the tamarillos until they are fully submerged in water. Leave in hot water for about 3-4 minutes. Remove tamarillos and run under cold water. The skin where you have cut would have curled a little. Use a sharp knife, peel the skin back and remove. Cut the tamarillo into 6 wedges. Set aside.
- Wash cherry tomatoes and slice in half.
- Wash cucumbers, cut into quarters and slice into 1 cm rounds.
- Remove basil leaves to yield ½ cup.
- Thinly slice red onion into half moons.
- Remove marinated goat cheese packaging and break into smaller pieces.
- Over low-medium heat, place panko breadcrumbs, crushed garlic, lemon zest and grated parmesan in a large fry pan. Gently dry toast until golden brown. Remove from heat.
- In a mason jar, add red wine vinegar, dried oregano, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and shake until combined.
- In a large mixing bowl, add cucumbers, tomatoes, tamarillos, sliced red onion, basil leaves and half of the crumbled marinated goat cheese.
- Dress salad with oregano vinaigrette and gently toss together.
- Place dressed salad on a large serving platter and top with remaining crumbled goat cheese.
- Scatter toasted panko breadcrumbs on top.
- Serve immediately.
- If tamarillo is not in season, you can substitute with large green or heirloom tomatoes for a different texture and flavour to cherry tomatoes.
- Panko can be purchased at most major supermarkets, but you can also use regular breadcrumbs if you don’t have panko.
- To create a vegan salad, replace crumbled goat cheese with vegan version or a Persian style vegan feta and omit the parmesan from the toasted panko mixture.
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