I can recall as a youngster playing outside in what felt like the endless days of summer.
There was swimming, sleeping out on the deck, running through the neighborhood or walking through the woods. I’m pretty sure the words, “I’m bored,” never passed my lips. Perhaps that was because I was so thankful that I wasn’t sitting in a classroom.
One of the highlights of my summer was always “helping” in my parents’ garden.
I put quotes around helping because that’s what my dad kindly called it. In reality, it was more like me picking what I wanted to eat at any given moment, handing it to him and asking him to clean it.
My favorite to pick, clean and eat were garden onions (or scallions, as proper chefs call them). I ate those the way some kids ate candy – one after another. My breath must’ve been amazing, but at the time, I was ignorant of that concern.
Actually, until I was well into adulthood, I didn’t realize that, from June to August, most people didn’t keep a glass of water in the fridge with trimmed garden onions to grab as snacks.
Second to my love of the onions was my love of tomatoes: straight off the vine, ripe and juicy.
Those garden fresh tomatoes and onions, along with cucumbers, made up one of my favorite simple summer dishes.
My mom used to toss them with sour cream, salt, pepper and herbs. It was a staple on our dinner table once the garden was in full production, and I always looked forward to its fresh taste.
No matter how much she made, it never quite felt like I ate enough.
Now that we have our own garden, I look forward to making it for my family in the summer. I tweaked the recipe a bit and use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. I like the creaminess better, plus I’m more likely to have plain yogurt on hand than I am sour cream. And depending on whose at home to eat it, I sometimes add a tablespoon of well-cleaned, minced jalapeno (the only pepper we seem able to effectively grow).
Sometimes the simple things are the best, and with this quick and easy summer salad, that’s definitely the case!
Tomato Cucumber Salad
1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved (or 2 large tomatoes cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 cucumber, sliced
4 garden onions, whites and greens thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno (optional)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2-3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1 clove of garlic, grated
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, grated garlic and olive oil. Add a splash more of olive oil if you prefer a thinner dressing. Stir in dill, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as you prefer. Pour the dressing over the tomatoes, cucumber and onions and gently stir. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving. I really love this mix served over lettuce, as a more traditional salad. Add a little protein, and you’ve got a great work lunch!