Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chopped Tomato and Cucumber Salad Recipe with Mint, Feta, Lemon, and Thyme

Chopped Tomato and Cucumber SaladThere are so many food blog events, and I rarely have time to enter, especially when school starts, and I'm balancing my schedule as teacher, blogger, and Blogher contributing editor. But I wouldn't miss la Festa al Fresco, sponsored by Creampuffs in Venice and La Mia Cucina. And since we're still busy celebrating How to Use Garden Tomatoes Week, what could be more perfect than an event celebrating fresh foods!

For last year's Festa al Fresco I made Sundried Tomato Pesto and Spread. This year I decided on a tomato and cucumber salad from my beloved Fine Cooking Magazine. If you're thinking just another tomato salad, what's special here is how the tomatoes and feta are marinated with herbs and lemon zest. How do you say "What a difference!" in Italian? This may become my new favorite out of all my many favorite summer tomato salads. Here's how to make it so you can see if it will become a favorite at your house too.

Letting the ingredients hang around together a while before they're combined which is what makes this salad so good. Chopped tomatoes, mint, thyme, salt, and pepper and sit on counter at room temperature about one hour.

Also spending some time together is the feta, mint, lemon zest, thyme, and pepper. After these two sets of ingredients have gotten nice and friendly, they're combined with the cucumbers and allowed to hang around a bit longer before dressing is added.

Chopped Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Mint, Feta, Lemon, and Thyme
(Makes 3-4 servings, recipe adapted by Kalyn from July 2007 edition of Fine Cooking Magazine.)

2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes or ripe Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped mint (or more)
1-2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more for serving if desired
fresh ground black pepper (use more or less to taste)
1/2 cup crumbled Feta
1 tsp. lemon zest (or more, be sure to zest the lemon before squeezing the juice)
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sliced green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
1 1/2 cup chopped cucumber

Cut up tomatoes and place in medium-sized bowl. (I didn't have enough cherry tomatoes so I used some of each.) Add half the mint, half the thyme, the salt, and a bit of fresh-ground black pepper. Combine ingredients and let sit at room temperature for about one hour.

In a separate bowl, combine crumbled feta, lemon zest, remaining mint, remaining thyme, and a bit more fresh-ground pepper. Let sit at room temperature about one hour.

After the above ingredients have marinated about 45 minutes, start to cut up cucumbers into bite-sized pieces. (I used fresh garden cucumbers which didn't need to be peeled. Store cucumbers may need some or all of the peel removed.) Slice green onions and chop olives, then combined tomato mixture, feta mixture, cucumbers, green onions, and olives in large bowl. Let sit at room temperature for a few minutes. When you're ready to serve the salad, whisk together the olive oil and fresh lemon juice and mix gently with salad ingredients. (You may not need all the dressing depending on how wet you prefer your salad.) Season with sea salt and more fresh ground black pepper if desired and serve.

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
This salad is perfectly South Beach friendly for any phase of the South Beach Diet. It would make a great lunch main dish salad, or would taste great as a side salad for a phase one dinner with something like Grilled Fusion Chicken or Grilled Spicy Tuna. For phase two or three, you could add something like Basil and Parmesan Rice with Pine Nuts.

More and More Great Salad Ideas with Tomatoes:
(Recipes from other blogs may or may not be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
A collection of Summer Tomato Salads from Kalyn's Kitchen
Heirloom Tomato Basil Salad from Simply Recipes
Turkish Tomato Salad from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Simple, Fabulous Tomato Salad from What Did You Eat
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Marinated Onions from Sassy Radish
Best Tomato Salad from Gastronomy Domine
Marinated Tomato Salad from David Lebovitz
Panzanella from Kitchen Parade
Minty Zucchini and Tomato Salad from Lucullian Delights
Yellow Heirloom Tomato Insalata Caprese from Well Fed
Stuffed Tomatoes with Two Kinds of Salad from Nami Nami
Tabbouleh with Heirloom Tomatoes and Shiso from Just Hungry
Almost Greek Salad from Technicolor Kitchen
Caprese Salad with a Trio of Tomatoes from Gluten Free Journey
Farro with Kale, Tomatoes and Fresh Mozarella from Stephen Cookscounter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. This salad looks great. I really like adding mint to salads. It adds a really nice "freshness".

  2. I'm loving How to Use Garden Tomatoes Week! All of the recipes have been wonderful, fresh, and inspiring. Thanks, Kalyn.

  3. WOO HOO! Now THAT'S a salad I could eat most every day.. YUM! I love how the tomatoes and cheese are marinated.. I love doing that with mozzarella as well. =)

    Thank you so much for joinin in on the festa again this year, Kalyn! It wouldn't be La Festa la Fresco without you!


  4. Kalyn, You have a MARVELOUS Blog and I am loving it more and more with each post. August 31st was Blog Day and I chose your blog as one of my favorites to link to.
    I really love to cook and it is especially helpful to find recipes that can help tremendously when dieting. Congratulations on your weightloss and Your Blog, THANQ!

  5. We're so honoured that you wouldn't miss our event, Kalyn! You know, for me, this has truly been the summer of feta. I can't seem to get enough of it. And now this gorgeous salad gives me one more reason to eat even more of it!

    Thank you so much for bringing it to the party!

  6. Kevin, I agree completely about the mint!

    Lydia, thanks so much. I am glad so many people share my love of fresh tomatoes.

    Lis, me too. This type of salad is my absolute favorite. As for La Festa La Fresco, wouldn't miss it!

    Weightless, thank you so much. I'm honored.

    Ivonne, as I said, I would not have missed it for anything! And I'm completely with you on the love of feta. I buy those big hunks from Costco, and I find myself buying another one when the first one isn't even gone!

  7. Kalyn! This makes me salivate! My friend just made us a version of this salad and I skipped dessert so I could eat more and more, it was so amazing. But, what is not to love about garden tomatoes:)?

  8. This is FABULOUS. I used about twice as much mint as you called for, and only felt a little guilty about it :) The dressing was barely necessary, though the lemon juice added a great tang. I did feel it needed a bit of extra salt at the end.

  9. Janelle, you sound like me, more tomatoes and no dessert. Yes, garden tomatoes are the ultimate.

    Adam, glad you liked it. More mint is always good if you ask me! And I feel the same way about salt.

  10. Oh my goodness, Kalyn. I'm practically salivating just reading your recipe and looking at the picture of your tomato salad. It's as if I could almost taste how well all the different ingredients come together.

  11. Hi Ed, thanks! I'd say this was one of the best things I've made all summer!

  12. I can't wait to try this salad! Great post and photo!

  13. I made this last night and it was delicious. Thanks for another great recipe.

  14. Mari, thanks!

    Food Hunter, so glad you liked it. As I said, I loved this recipe too. And I still have mint, tomatoes, feta, and cucumbers, so I need to make it again!

  15. Sorry about inadvertantly using your photo. I was having so much trouble today with my blog, I really have to admit I did not scroll down your site to see your copywright message. I cannot get on my site at this time, but as soon as possible I will remove it from my site.I did make the salad today and added mint as your recipe said to do and it was very good. I received comments about how nice the salad looked, but I certainly do not wish to be credited for something that I did not do. I will comment to those folks that it was your picture. as soon as I can get on my blog.

  16. Schotzy, thanks for the quick action taking down the photo, and for the link to the recipe. I do appreciate your integrity.

  17. Have you tried this salad with oregano instead of thyme? Thanks,

  18. Sandra, I haven't tried that but I think it would be great with oregano!

  19. I made this salad last night to go with the Wild Sockeye I planned to grill for dinner.
    I followed the recipe exactly as written using tomatoes, herbs and cucumbers from my garden.
    When it was finished and just before serving I added a couple of large handfuls of baby arugula, mixing it in thoroughly.
    We loved it and I will be making it again. Thank you so much for posting it.

  20. I do like the sound of arugula in this!


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