Chopped Cucumber Caprese Salad
Yields: about 5 cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
A fresh salad that sings of summer, this dish is loaded with antioxidants and is a healthy spin on a traditional Caprese salad with extra crunch from cucumber!
2 cups cucumbers, diced (zebra peeled if desired*)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, diced
1 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons quality balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced (about 1 large clove)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper (optional)
1. Prepare dressing in a large bowl (whatever bowl in which you choose to make salad) by adding olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. Dice cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese into bite-size pieces. Chop basil and add all ingredients to the bowl with dressing.
*I like to “zebra peel” my cucumbers. This is where I peel every other line of the cucumber, giving a striped look. I feel it is a good balance of skin on/skin off to please those in both camps of preference!
3. Gently toss all ingredients together. Salad can be enjoyed immediately or refrigerated for 30 minutes to let all the flavors blend. Salad is at its best visual appearance when consumed within 24 hours. (Yet, the taste is still fabulous the next day!)
Last year we spent quite a deal of time at my in-law’s house during the summer due to some renovation work on our own home. My mother-in-law has an amazing garden, which includes loads of fresh cucumbers. She was always looking for ways to use the abundance of cucumbers that just kept coming. This salad was one she made and I just love every part of it, I made a version of it this year.
We don’t yet have an abundance of anything in our garden (except kale and lettuce), but with the exception of mozzarella cheese, this is a true-to-form garden fresh salad. We are growing basil, tomatoes and cucumbers, so it can be a garden to plate sort of deal. Although, I’ve not yet mastered the art of olive growing and processing into olive oil – maybe in my next life!
An additional bonus to this salad is that it is nut and gluten free, as well as very filling. The mozzarella cheese really gives it some bulk, making it a perfect accompaniment to a BBQ or a stand-alone lunch. My kids love the flavor, although I have one who is not a tomato fan, so she will pick them out and send them on to her sister who loves tomatoes.
Best of all, the nutrients packed into this dish are endless! Lycopene is a powerful carotenoid (giving fruits and veggies their reddish-orange color) antioxidant that helps support cardiovascular health as well as fight free radicals (damaging molecules) that may lead to cancer. (Source) Although lycopene is best absorbed in the body when in a cooked food, such as tomato sauce, it also is present in fresh tomatoes.
And the benefits don’t stop there. Basil and garlic are also loaded with antioxidants. The mozzarella cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. And best of all, this salad tastes delicious!