My Father’s Favorite Salad ~ Tomatoes, Cucumbers & Mint

tomato salad

My dad was a funny, generous and kind man. He was my best friend and my caretaker.  An accountant by trade, he could do long division in his head.  I didn’t inherit his talent for numbers. But I share his love of cooking and nurturing people with good food. I have many fond memories of the delicious meals he prepared for us.  He was famous for his Christmas feasts which included festive punch and lots of fancy desserts.

When I was a kid, I remember him coming home from work, dressed in a jacket and tie with a bunch of tomatoes in one hand, a loaf of Italian bread in the other. He often brought us fresh mozzarella too. He’d prepare this salad with the tomatoes. We’d eat it with pillow-soft fresh mozzarella and crusty bread.  It was his favorite go-to dinner on busy weeknights.

He was Lebanese.  This was his favorite salad.  Adding fresh or dried mint to chopped salads always will be popular with Middle Easterners. Fresh mint adds sparkle. It pairs well with with cucumbers, enhancing their flavor.  If you use dried mint, it’s important to use spearmint, not peppermint.
If you love tabbouleh, chances are you’ll love this one too.  It makes its own light dressing .  It’s high in vitamin C, lycopene and monounsaturated fats. If you’re a tomato lover then this salad is for you.
Eat it like my dad did with crusty bread and mozzarella.  Alternately, sprinkle it with crumbled feta or stuff it into a pita with my creamy restaurant style hummus. It’s a good summertime salad to keep in your recipe box.
You can even add some rinsed and drained canned chickpeas to it for protein.

tomato and cucumber

Lebanese Tomato Salad Recipe

Some notes: 

Make this salad with any variety of ripe tomatoes. Use one pound of small plum tomatoes, tiny grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or whatever kind of tomato that floats your boat. Summer heirloom tomatoes are wonderful too.

Persian cucumbers are sweet, crunchy and seedless. There’s no need to peel them as their skins are soft. If all you can find are regular cucumbers then peel them before adding them to the salad.

I find scallions to be easier to work with and much milder than red onions, so that’s what I go for here.
  • 1 pound of ripe tomatoes, chopped or quartered depending on the kind and the size. I used quartered cherry tomatoes.
  • 3 scallions, green and pale-green parts diced
  • 6 Persian cucumbers, chopped into small pieces (see notes)
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves torn or chopped or a pinch or two of dried spearmint, rubbed between your fingers to release its flavor.
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 lemon, a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice. Don’t overdo it with the lemon juice, unless you really love lemony salads.
  • Sea salt to taste. Fleur de sel or Celtic gray salt is great.
  • Serving Suggestions: crumbled feta,  chickpeas, crusty bread or pita, sliced mozzarella, black olives, drizzle of good olive oil

Instructions:   Place everything in a bowl and toss to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve at room temperature with some feta crumbled on top. If you don’t love feta then the other serving suggestions are lovely too. Enjoy!


6 thoughts on “My Father’s Favorite Salad ~ Tomatoes, Cucumbers & Mint

  1. I enjoyed getting to know your dad in this post. I think I would love this salad as I love Lebanese food!

  2. Jill- This recipe brings back so many wonderful memories of my Grandfather and Pittston. Especially the bread (Ristagno’s). I love your blog and have made several items and recommended your website to friends in Philly. Keep them coming! Lara

    • Lara, How are you? Thanks for leaving this kind comment and telling people to visit me. I’m cleaning up a lot of old recipes from Jilly Inspired and transferring them here. Sometimes the formatting gets a little wonky in the transfer. But I hope the recipes are easier to read. I want this blog to be better. I loved Ristagno’s bread too! And there’s nothing like Pittston tomatoes! xo ~ Jilly

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