Tomato Cucumber Salad

This is a super simple salad that can be thrown together at the drop of a hat. The mozzarella gives it that satisfying and filling quality. You could leave it out for a vegan salad, adding white beans instead. You can also add some black olives to this salad for more interest, but back off a little on the salt if you do.

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Tomato Cucumber Salad in a white bowl on a white wooden table with orange napkins.

Easy Summer Side Dish

It’s natural to love salads in the summertime. They are cool and refreshing and require little preparation other than tossing things together. Sometimes, however, we tire of leafy green salads. That’s where this tomato cucumber salad comes in. The only leaves you’ll find in this delicious side dish are fresh basil leaves torn in at the last minute. It’s a little sneaky of me to call it just a tomato cucumber salad since you also toss in fresh mozzarella, but that’s me… sneaky with my side dishes. 

A bowl of colored tomatoes with a cucumber, red onion, basil and fresh mozzarella balls on a white wooden table.

Best Tomatoes for Salad

When it comes to what tomatoes to use for this salad, I will always say use the ripest tomatoes. Use what is in season and delicious first. Then, pick tomatoes that will look beautiful in the bowl. A mix of colors – red, orange, yellow, black and even green look so nice tossed altogether. Cherry and grape tomatoes are cute and easy to just slice in half, but you can also include some larger tomatoes and mix in some wedges of tomato for interest.

Red onions being cut on a wooden cutting board with other ingredients around. Assembling a tomato cucumber salad on a white table with red onions drying on a kitchen towel.

How to Take the Bite out of Onions

The red onion really does add a nice burst of intensity to this salad, but if you’re like me you might veer away from raw onions for fear that you’ll taste them for the next three or four days. The solution is to soak your red onions first. Slice them thinly and then pop them into a bowl of cold water. Let them sit for at least 20 minutes or longer. Then, drain and rinse before drying well on a clean kitchen towel. This soaking and rinsing washes away some of the bite of the onions, making them more digestible and easy on the palette.

Cucumber being chopped on a wooden cutting board with a bowl of tomatoes, basil, red onion and fresh mozzarella on the side.

What Type of Cucumber to Use

I like to use an English cucumber for this salad because it has fewer seeds and thinner skin than traditional cucumbers. (Cucumber seeds and skin can be bitter.) If all you have are traditional cucumbers, not to worry – just peel them, cut them in half and scoop out the seeds before slicing. 


Tomato cucumber salad in a white bowl with dressing, basil and a pepper grinder near by.

How to Make Ahead 

This salad is an easy one to make ahead of time if you’re entertaining. Combine all the vegetables and cheese in a bowl, prepare the dressing on the side and save the basil for the last minute. You could do this up to a day ahead of time if you keep the vegetables in the refrigerator. When it comes time to serve the salad, toss everything together and let it sit for 30 minutes or so before serving so the flavors have time to blend. If you happen to have leftovers, you can toss the ingredients with some leafy greens or cooked pasta for another salad the next day, or spoon it onto some crusty bread for a delicious toast.

Hands tearing basil over a tomato cucumber salad.

What to Serve with Tomato Cucumber Salad

I do think this salad is a perfect side for grilling season – you can make it ahead, it’s served room temperature and tomatoes and cucumbers are in high season in the summertime. So, have this alongside some grilled chicken like this Orange Spiced Spatchcocked Chicken, Grilled Marinated London Broil, or even a grilled burger

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Tomato and Cucumber Salad

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Total Time: 15 m
  • Servings:
    people as a side dish


  • ¼ to ½ small red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 2 dry pints mixed color cherry tomatoes 4 cups
  • 8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella balls
  • salt and freshly black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the sliced red onions in a small bowl and cover with water. Let onions soak for at least 10 minutes to make them less pungent. Drain away the water, pat the onions dry with a clean kitchen towel and place them in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the Dijon mustard, white balsamic vinegar and salt. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified and season with freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
  3. Slice the English cucumber in half lengthwise and then slice crosswise into ¼-inch halfmoons. Cut the cherry tomatoes and the little mozzarella balls in half horizontally. Add the cucumbers, tomatoes and mozzarella balls to the bowl with the red onions. Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and toss together. Let the vegetables sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  4. Before serving, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and tear in the fresh basil.
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Comments (3)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    Came out great! I have to admit that I supplemented it with fresh greens that I bought at our local farmers market that just opened for the year. Will make it again tonight.

    1. For this recipe, I like to use a white balsamic vinegar. Look for one that has 6% acidity listed on the label.

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