Arabic Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Crispy Persian cucumbers and ripe, sweet tomatoes combined with mint, lemon and olive oil make for a refreshing salad or bright side to grilled meat.

I know we are in the middle of yet another atmospheric river, and as I type this, I can hear the rain pounding on the sides of the house just outside my home studio. Yes, this weather screams soup. But this gal cannot exist on soup alone. Sometimes, I just want something fresh to remind me of warmer weather. That's when this Arabic cucumber and tomato salad comes in to save my lunchtime doldrums. I've been eating it off and on for two weeks now and enjoying every refreshing bite.

This salad is a riff on one that I first had at a Lebanese restaurant years ago. I like to use Persian cucumbers and cherry tomatoes (Sprouts, btw, sells a brand of cherry tomatoes on the vine called Flavor Bombs and boy! Howdy! Are they ever!). It's simply dressed in freshly squeezed lemon juice, a good extra virgin olive oil, lemon and lots of fresh mint. 

This cucumber and tomato salad is super easy to put together. I've typically seen this made more like a chopped salad, with everything cut into a medium to fine dice. I prefer it chunkier, especially when serving it as my main for lunch. Let me show you my take on this simple Middle Eastern staple:

Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then into half-moons. Dump them into a bowl.

Cut the tomatoes in half; add to the bowl.

Instead of dicing the red onion, I like to slice them thinly. I place the smaller inner circle pieces directly into the bowl. I like to halve the longer pieces before adding them to the bowl. 

Remove the leaves from a couple of sprigs of fresh mint …

… then finely mince the leaves; add them to the bowl.

Squeeze the juice of half a large lemon directly into the bowl, being mindful of the seeds. No one likes to bite into lemon seeds! 

Add a bit of sea salt …

… And black pepper.

Next, drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil directly over the vegetables. When the olive oil is playing a role in the taste of the dish, I love to use California Olive Ranch's 100% Californian Reserve Miller's Blend. It has a nice bold, peppery finish (no, this isn't a sponsored post; I'm just sharing what I love with you).

Give everything a good toss and serve immediately. Leftovers only keep a day or so as the lemon and salt break down the cucumber if left to sit in the dressing for too long. So, I tend to make just enough to consume right away.

This salad pairs really well with grilled meat, but I enjoy it just as much with rice dishes like mujaddara. For lunch, I'll sometimes serve it over couscous or with some toasted rustic bread smeared with hummus.

Arabic Cucumber Tomato Salad

Some recipes for this Middle Eastern salad include red bell peppers, garlic or parsley. I like keeping it basic to let the cucumbers and tomatoes shine. You don't need to use cherry tomatoes; just use the ripest tomatoes available. This time of year, cherry and grape tomatoes just happen to be the sweetest and most ripe.

Makes 4 servings


3 Persian cucumbers, halved and sliced into half-moons
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ red onion, thinly sliced, longer pieces halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)
¼ teaspoon each sea salt and pepper


Add all the ingredients together in a bowl and toss. If not serving right away, add the cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and mint to the serving bowl—refrigerate, covered, until ready to eat. Dress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper right before serving.

 Until the next recipe, my friends … stay warm and dry! 
xo, ani