Tomato Cucumber Cilantro Salad

Cucumber Tomato Cilantro Salad

Tomato Cucumber Cilantro Salad

 

Walking through the farmers’ market in late July and August, one cannot miss the signs that it is tomato season in California.  Everywhere you turn there are piles of ripe, organic tomatoes – bright red, yellow, orange ones, multi-colored heirlooms, cherry and grape tomatoes, you name it.  This is one of my favorite times of year.  It is when any tomato you pick has the most intense color and the sweetest flavor.  The color is not only a sign of the greatest taste, but also of its peak nutritional value – foods that are most colorful contain the most vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  You cannot find tomatoes like this at your local supermarket.  They have to come straight from the vine – either from your garden or direct from the farm at the farmers’ market. 

 

Forget about “tainted tomatoes” – when you buy your produce locally, you know where it came from and you don’t have to worry about the latest outbreak of food poisoning.  The reason why we are hearing so much in the news lately about food-bourne illness is that there is such a long delivery chain from the farm to the supermarket or restaurant.  When our food comes from half-way around the world and gets shipped and freighted and trucked and distributed through many hands, not only are there multiple opportunities for that food to become contaminated, but it is not fresh!  It has lost most of it’s flavor and nutritional value by the time it lands on your dinner table.  That’s why it is so important to support your local agriculture whenever possible by buying food from local markets that not only tastes fantastic, but is also safe, nutritious, and usually organic.

 

Equally as important as buying local is buying organic.  Tomatoes are one of the top 12 foods you should always buy organic, because of their thin skins and tendency to retain pesticide residue.  Non-organic produce not only contains traces of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, but also contains fewer nutrients because it is often a mass-produced monoculture grown in poor soil that has been stripped of nutrients from too many years of growing the same crop.  The long and short of it is, the more land we use to grow a single plant for a long period of time, the less nutrients the soil contains and the more synthetic fertilizers and pesticides it takes to raise a successful crop.  It becomes a vicious cycle.  Smaller, local farms are much better at producing organic foods than large industrial ones, because they usually grow a variety of plants and take better care of the soil.  That is one reason why the produce you find at the farmers’ market is such a higher quality than anything you can find at the supermarket.  Plus it is usually harvested within the last 24 hours – it doesn’t get more fresh than that unless it comes from your own garden!

 

Where tomatoes are in season you can also usually find cucumbers, scallions (green onions) and cilantro, which combine excellently with ripe tomatoes for this crisp, summer salad.  Just chop each ingredient, add a fresh squeeze of lime, and season with sea salt and cracked pepper.

 

1 cucumber

2 ripe organic tomatoes

1 bunch scallions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 lime

1/4 tsp sea salt

fresh cracked pepper

 

 

Although the salad is best when eaten fresh, the lime and salt will preserve it safely for a couple of days when refrigerated.  It is perfect for packed lunches, picnics or barbeques.  Sometimes when I am out working I need to grab a taco or some sushi for a quick meal, and I’ll bring a container of this salad with me (it goes great with Mexican food!) to supplement it with some fresh, raw veggies.

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