Got fresh tomatoes? This cucumber tomato onion salad brings out the beauty of ripe tomatoes in a way you’ll want to eat again and again.
What’s better than the sweet, juicy taste of a ripe tomato? Alex and I get giddy the moment they start to appear at farmers markets, in their crimson, golden, and neon green splendor. The great thing about fresh tomatoes is that they are at their best in simple preparations. And this cucumber tomato onion salad is just that: pure ingredients that when marinaded bring together the richest of flavors. This salad is perfect as a side dish for meals on the patio or summer barbecues: it goes with anything and everything. And the flavor is like pure gold. Here’s how to make it!
Related: Balsamic Tomato Salad
How to make cucumber tomato onion salad
For a standout cucumber tomato onion salad, you must promise us one thing (ready?). Please only make this salad with ripe summer tomatoes! Do not try to make this in the off-season, when grocery store tomatoes are pink and mealy. This will only result in a truly terrible cucumber tomato onion salad. As with all simple preparations, the flavor of this salad depends on the quality of its ingredients. Do not skimp on the tomatoes!
We recommend buying your tomatoes at a farmers market if you have access to one, or growing them yourself. Or, try to find the best looking heirloom tomatoes you can buy at your local grocery store. Multi-colored tomatoes work well here: the more the colors, the more vibrant the salad! Combined with cool cucumber and zesty onion, it’s like plant-based take on a Greek salad (without the typical feta cheese!).
Here’s how to make this cucumber tomato onion salad (see the full recipe below):
- Thinly slice the onion and let it soak for a few minutes in cold water. This helps to remove the strong bite of the onion.
- Meanwhile, cut the cucumber into half-moons and the tomato into wedges. Finely chop the herbs.
- Combine all the veggies and herbs with olive oil, red wine vinegar and kosher salt. Allow it to marinade for at least 30 minutes, then serve.
Can I skip the marinading time?
Alex and I are always looking for shortcuts over here. This cucumber tomato onion salad calls for marinading for 30 minutes. Is it really necessary? Actually, yes! We sampled this salad before and after the marinading time, and you’ll definitely notice a difference. Marinading allows the flavors to meld, and they’re much more developed than when the salad is freshly mixed together. So make sure to make this salad in advance, and let it do its magic while you’re getting together the rest of the meal.
If you’d like, you can make this salad up to 2 hours in advance and store it covered at room temperature until serving. We recommend to not refrigerate this salad: it dulls the flavors.
What are heirloom tomatoes?
What are heirloom tomatoes? Heirloom tomatoes are a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family by saving the seeds. When you buy heirloom tomatoes, you’ll notice that their color and shape are much more varied than the typical round red tomato. They can vary from chartreuse to gold to purple to orange, from small and round to large and squat.
Do you have to use heirloom tomatoes in this recipe? Not at all. We just love the look that heirloom tomatoes give, with all their vibrant colors. They also typically have a variety and nuance in flavor that makes the overall salad more intriguing. But you can use any ripe tomato that you like.
PS The tomatoes we used here were grown by our dear friends, a husband and wife farmer team here in Indianapolis (Full Hand Farm)! We grabbed them at our local farmer’s market.
Related: 15 Best Fresh Tomato Recipes
How to grow herbs
For this cucumber tomato onion salad, we’ve used a mix of herbs: basil, thyme and oregano from our garden. If you can, we recommend growing herbs at home in the summer months: it only requires some pots and a sunny ledge! You don’t even need garden space. If you’re looking to grow herbs, here are some resources that we’ve put together:
We really liked the complexity that using a few different herbs brought to this salad, but if you don’t have herbs readily on hand, there’s no need to buy all three. If you can only get one we’d recommend basil, and if you can use a mix of basil and oregano.
How to serve it
How would you serve this cucumber tomato onion salad? We can think of so many summery recipes to accessorize with this salad; it’s perfect for a summer party, barbecue, or cookout on the deck. Here’s a few things we might serve with it:
- Broiled Salmon with Bourbon Glaze
- Garlic Grilled Shrimp
- Best Grilled Veggie Burger
- Greek Grilled Veggie Skewers
- Parmesan Potatoes (or Baked Potato Wedges)
- Elote (or Oven Roasted Corn)
- Easy Peach Sangria
- Virgin Piña Colada Recipe
- Easy Frozen Sangria
- Gin & Watermelon Cocktail
- Watermelon Salad with Feta & Cucumber
- Grilled Caesar Salad
- Greek Orzo Salad
- Blueberry Cake
- Peach Crisp with Basil
- Frozen Hot Chocolate
Looking for more salad recipes?
Outside of this cucumber tomato onion salad recipe, here are a few of our favorite salads:
- The BEST Kale Salad
- Greek Salad
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Wedge Salad with Potato Chips
- Mexican Coleslaw Recipe
- Favorite Potato Salad
- Radish Chopped Salad Recipe
- Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Everyday Mediterranean Salad
- German Cucumber Salad
- Easy Salad Bar Ideas
- Black Bean Salad
- Best Creamy Coleslaw
This cucumber tomato onion salad recipe is…
Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.Print
Got fresh summer tomatoes? This cucumber tomato onion salad brings out the beauty of ripe tomatoes in a way you’ll want to eat again and again.
- 4 to 6 large ripe tomatoes, multicolored if desired
- 1 large cucumber (we like English cucumbers)
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (such as basil, thyme, oregano)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Slice the onion into half moons and soak in water for 10 minutes to reduce the bite.
- Meanwhile, slice cucumbers into half circles. Slice tomatoes into wedges, leaving the seeds intact. Finely chop the herbs.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir gently to combine. Cover and rest for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours) before serving.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Cucumber onion tomato salad, Cucumber tomato onion salad
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.