This Cretan Tomato & Cucumber Salad is the epitome of the healthy Mediterranean diet directly from sunny Crete. A simple salad made hearty by the addition of the barley rusks and cheese great for a light dinner or as a tasty side.
This Cretan tomato & cucumber salad has many variations, they all include tomatoes, cucumber, barley rusks and a Cretan cheese either soft mizithra cheese (similar to goats cheese) or the dry anthotyros that we have in this version.
Another recipe that is seen quite often on our table and at our barbecues. A wonderful salad to serve with barbecued meat and poultry, great to serve with a traditional Greek lamb roast. Also wonderful with moussaka, pasticcio, lasagne, keftedakia or kofta..
What is a healthy Mediterranean diet?
The traditional Mediterranean diet is a plant-based diet with moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and fish and small amounts of red meat. Olive oil is used as the principal source of dietary fat and wine and sweets are consumed rarely.
More on the Cretan ingredients in this tomato & cucumber salad
- Dry anthotyros is a traditional Greek cheese made from unpasteurized sheep and goats milk which adds a wonderfully rich, salty flavour to this salad. Substitute with either freshly grated raw halloumi cheese, with grated Spanish Manchego, Italian pecorino or fresh mozzarella.
- Barley rusks are double-baked bread made with barley flour and have a wonderful nutty, whole-grain flavour. You can substitute with krisprolls or bagel chips.
Alternatively, make your own just by thickly slicing a wholemeal sourdough then toasting it in the oven at a low 135°C (275°F) for about 45-60 minutes, tossing it every now and then to help it dry evenly
- Olive oil it is essential in this recipe to use a good quality olive oil as the barley rusks need to soak it up to soften.
- Dried Greek oregano ‘rigani’, which is more aromatic than the dried oregano sold in supermarkets but if you are unable to find it just use dried oregano.
Wash the tomatoes remove the core and bottom then cut into large chunks or wedges.
Wash the cucumber trim the ends and cut into rounds.
Remove the core and seeds from your capsicum, rinse well then cut into thin slices.
Remove the papery skin from your onion cut off the ends and slice into thin wedges.
Place all your vegetables in a mixing bowl, break the barley rusks into medium pieces and crumble the anthotyro cheese or coarsely grate any other cheese if you are using a substitute.
Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and oregano, season with salt and pepper.
Toss until well combined, taste and adjust seasonings according to your liking.
Arrange in a salad bowl and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. Doing this will allow the flavours to meld together and for the barley rusks to soften.
Tips, & meal prep for tomato & cucumber salad
- The key to success for this salad lies in the quality and freshness of the salad vegetables. Look for fresh organic, salad vegetables.
- Use a good quality olive oil it will really make a difference to the taste of this salad.
- If you put the dressing in a separate container, you can certainly take it for your lunch the following day or even to a picnic.
- I would not recommend making a big batch of this salad for eating throughout the week.
- But, you can make this tomato & cucumber salad an hour or two in advance to allow the barley rusks to soak up the oil and tomato juices and soften.
- You can make this salad keto or low carb by omitting the rusks or even preparing large keto croutons instead.
- For vegetarians and vegans, you can also either omit the cheese or replace it with vegan feta.
Try more of our tomato salad recipes…
(Times are an estimate and will depend on your skill level)
- 3 medium truss tomatoes (approximately 300 grams)
- 3 medium Lebanese cucumbers (approximately 300 grams)
- 1 small green capsicum (bell pepper) (approximately 100 grams)
- 1 small red onion (approximately 100 grams)
- 4 small barley rusks 1 (approximately 100 grams
- 1/3 cup Anthotyro cheese 2 (approximately 100 grams)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tbsps red wine vinegar
- 1-2 pinches dried oregano
- Sea salt & cracked black pepper
- Wash all the vegetables remove the cores, tops and bottoms. Then cut the tomatoes into large chunks, the cucumbers in rounds and the green capsicum and onion into thin wedges. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Break the barley rusks into medium pieces and crumble the anthotyro cheese on top of the vegetables.
- Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and oregano, season with salt and pepper. Toss until combined, taste and adjust seasonings according to your taste.
- Arrange in a salad bowl and serve.