Lebanese Tahini Cucumber Tomato Salad

I love simple dishes that are flavorful and easy to make. When fresh, local vegetables are around, they provide most of the flavor, and eating instantly becomes more enjoyable. There is nothing like an in-season tomato. Compare a tomato shipped in from Mexico to a locally grown tomato, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Last week, I wrote about the process of “Thumbnailing.” This cucumber-tomato post comes from thumbnail #2. So, without further ado, here is a Lebanese / Mediterranean-style cucumber salad with tomatoes!

This salad includes: cucumbers, tomatoes, tahini, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, a little salt and some water.

Grab your trusty peeler. We’re taking these cukes down to their skivvies.


I started by sliding my peeler along the skin of the cucumber. The outer, green skin comes off so easily (this is not like peeling a potato)!

One down!

There. Two peeled cucumbers.

Much like the last salad, I halved these cucumbers lengthwise.

Since these are relatively small cucumbers, I’m going to leave the seeds in and go straight for the dice. After flipping the cucumbers cut-side-down (for stability)…

I proceeded to slice each piece into long strips. Each strip is about a quarter-inch (4-5 strips per piece on my cucumbers).


Nice.

Onto the dice.

I pulled a 90 degree turn with my knife and cut perpendicular slices. The dice immediately appears, as expected…

There’s one.

I’m feeling ambitious. Three at once?

Whoops – some pieces are a little more generous than others. At least it levels off my next cut! I will retroactively cut the big pieces down to size.

There. That’s better.


Well, three at once doesn’t seem too ambitious at all. Smooth sailing.

Diced cucumbers? Check.

Next, I pulled out a spoon to scoop the tomato guts and a bowl to catch the tomato cuts.

Halving the tomatoes…

Mmmmmmmmmmm… Smells soooo good…


Quartering the tomatoes…


Yum!

Tomatoes meet synchronized swimming?


If you made the cucumber and tomato salad earlier, this will be child’s play. It’s the same song, second verse. Take the quarter tomato into your hand and scoop out the flesh with the spoon. Start at the base of the tomato and push the spoon toward the top. The flesh will pop right out!

Guts in the bowl. Skin in the hand.

Quite a collection, I must say.

The outer edges of the tomatoes remind me of flower petals.

Next up? Lengthwise strips.



All right, now let’s get this big pile into smaller, more manageable stacks.


Just like the cucumbers. 90 degrees + knife + about a minute + your hand = dicey goodness.

Magnifique!

For the dressing, I grabbed 1/4 cup tahini paste, 1/4 cup water (not pictured here), some lemon wedges (for fresh lemon juice), a bit of salt and some olive oil.

In goes the tahini.

A pinch of salt.

Followed by a … wait a second.

This is what happens when one hand is snapping photos and the other hand is trying to squeeze a lemon. I guess we all have our limits.

Good thing I washed this lemon!

Okay, where were we? Oh, yes. Call in your friend, in this case, my attractive-could-be-a-hand-model-husband, and ask them to squeeze your lemon. Oh wait, you’re doing this without a camera. Nevermind.

Watch out for seeds! Some people like squeezing the juice into their hand over the bowl, so they catch the seeds and the juice drains through their fingers and into the bowl. Others like to pick the seeds out manually before squeezing out the juice, and some like to cut the lemon in a way where you avoid the seeds entirely. And these are all good methods. Nobody wants to chomp on a lemon seed.

A little olive oil. About a tablespoon.

A pinch of salt.


I grabbed my whisk, poured in a quarter cup of water and whisked away…


About ten seconds later, I had the following:

Taste test. Does it need a little more salt? More lemon juice? Tahini has a nutty flavor to it (it is ground sesame seeds!), and once the water comes into the mix, it may need a little more acidity or salt to taste great. Adjust it until you love it.

Tomatoes dive in…

Cucumbers too…


A little pinch of salt. (I like layering little by little.)

A vigorous stir…

Oh dear. What have we here?

Looks like a couple of pieces self-selected to be eaten early.


A tiny bit of evidence remains…

Finished stirring! Let’s get this into a smaller bowl…

I love paprika. It’s eye-poppingly beautiful. Just a pinch (or two) and we’re set.



Lebanese Tahini Cucumber Tomato Salad. A great way to enjoy the fresh tomatoes! Our friends comment about how much they love this – it’s creamy, but it doesn’t contain dairy. Vegetarians and vegans are big fans too. It’s gluten free. It’s nutty (yay for protein). This one is a real people pleaser. If you’re wanting to sneak in some more green, try fresh parsley. It’s a great topping for this salad, and it adds a slight crunch.

Enjoy!

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  • Grady Behrens

    Question, what brand of Tahini did you use?  I have sort of this love hate relationship with Tahini, where I think I like it, and then sometimes at the last minute my mouth decides it is grainy, or strong, or tastes burnt.  Or is it just the particular kind I have sometimes?  We have SWAD, when we have it.

    • http://twitter.com/artandtable Art & Table

      Hi Grady! We use Cedar’s Tahini (right now).  I almost always add lemon juice to tahini.  It can be pretty bland by itself!