In Northern California where I was born and raised, we are drowning in a sea of tomatoes and cucumbers. What is the absolute best thing to make with these items, especially if your cukes are a little too large? Chopped salad!
During the summer, tomatoes take over my life. They conquer my counter top, crowd out other fruit in my fruit bowl, and make their way into my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Tomatoes take the place of ham for delicious vegetarian eggs benedict. Sun Gold cherry tomatoes get picked off the vine and popped into mouths for a sweet burst not expected from a “vegetable”. Summer revolves around tomatoes because once the first frost hits, it is bye-bye tomatoes until next year. Some how, after months of being spoiled with sweet, acidic, juicy fruit, a pinkish, mealy brick in a tomato shape doesn’t cut the mustard.
Since they are frost sensitive and are a summer time fruit, it doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out what is bad for them. There is no better way to kill the flavor and texture of a tomato than to refrigerate it. Unless your tomato is cut, keep it on the counter.
Tomatoes are one of many fruits that are susceptible to ripening by ethylene. Ethylene, for these fruit, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ethylene is given off by ripening fruit and encourages other fruits to ripen too. Just like flooding the market with a industrial product, plants use ethylene to ripen all their fruit at once to make sure some of their babies make it to maturity by providing a ton of fruit for animals all at once. If you want to ripen a tomato faster, enclose it in a paper bag with another ethylene sensitive fruit like apples, pears, or peaches. If you want to prolong the life of your fruit, keep them separate and store them in a well-ventilated area.
Middle Eastern Style Chopped Salad
For this recipe, you will need:
1 medium to large cucumber, preferably Persian or English
2-3 medium tomatoes or 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes. I like to use a variety of colors for visual appeal and taste. If acid is a problem for you, choose yellow tomatoes.
¼ medium onion
3 pepperoncinis, optional
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
¼ cup crumbled feta. I prefer Bulgarian style feta, which is softer and creamier than Greek brined feta. 2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese plus 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar maybe substituted for vegans.
1 tablespoon mint, chopped using the chiffonade method
1 medium bowl
1. Dice cukes, tomatoes, onion, and pepperoncinis in ¼ inch or smaller cubes.
2. Combine veggies, oil, salt, pepper, feta, and mint in a large bowl.
3. Eat immediately or chill for 30 minutes to allow flavors to mix.
4. Enjoy with fellow activists.