Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Italian Summertime Tomato, Cucumber and Basil Salad

July is almost here! Can you believe it? Where does the time go? I have no idea. None whatsoever.

It feels like yesterday when I was 12-years old playing on the slip in slide, cursing my new curves that hurt every time I hurled myself on the slippery wet tarp.

Oh well, those were the days... 

But I do know that July 4th will be here in only a few days. With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my all time favorite recipes for summer barbeques and potlucks, which you all may be attending this weekend.
This Summertime Italian Tomato, Cucumber, and Basil Salad is one of my all time favorite recipes. I bring it on camping trips, to work potlucks, to family gatherings, and serve it alongside everything from brats to steaks. 

The two best things about this recipe is that:

1) It's easy to make, just chop and dress, and

2) It's super versatile. You can use any vegetables and cheese combination and never go wrong. If you have squash instead of cucumber.. use it! If you have feta cheese instead of mozzarella... Go ahead! It's almost fool proof.

The component that makes this salad are fresh tomatoes, the chick peas, basil, and cheese. As long as you have those four ingredients the rest is history and will be amazing! 
The refreshing mix of fresh vegetables and yummy salty cheese make this a winner and a great compliment to ANYTHING! And, I'll bet you have almost everything you need already in your fridge!

So lets get started!

Italian Summertime Tomato, Cucumber, and Basil Salad
3 Ripe Vine Ripened Medium sized Tomatoes
1 Large Asian Cucumber
4 Cloves Garlic; Minced
1/2 Medium-sized Red Onion; Diced Finely
1 Can (15.5 oz) Garbonzo Beans; Drained and Rinsed
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil; Minced (you can also use 2 tbsp. dried basil)
4 Ounces Mozzarella Cheese; Cubed (you can also use feta, jack, or Gorgonzola)
1 tsp. Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 Cup Paul Newman's Light Balsamic Dressing
1 tsp. Lemon Juice 
1. Get all your vegetables together with a cutting board and your favorite knife. Slice the tomatoes into bite sized pieces. I like to slice the tomato along the round and then slice across both ways. Slice the cucumber into bite sized pieces as well as mincing the garlic and dicing the red onions.
2. Toss all of the vegetables into a large bowl. Drain and rinse the garbonzo beans and add those to the bowl. Then add the minced fresh basil and the cubed cheese. 
3. Add the salt, pepper, light balsamic dressing, and lemon juice. Toss together with a spoon to coat. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight. Overnight is best because it gives all the flavors a chance to really marinate and blend together.

Servings: 12 ( approximately 1/2 Cup)

Nutritional Skinny:

85.5 calories / 3.8 g fat / 9 g carbohydrates / 1.6 g fiber / 4.6 g protein
Mental Health Benefit: This recipe is not only a chop and drop style recipe making it super easy to make, but it is loaded with vegetables and beans! Do you know what that means? Tons of vitamins A, C, and B and fiber from the garbanzo beans with virtually no fat per serving! Most of the fat comes from the cheese and if you are using reduced fat cheese, then you also have the bonus of some calcium. Plus it's fresh and bright flavors are the perfect compliment to a hot summer day!

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