June 12, 2022

Quick Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad Panera Copycat

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If you’re looking for a quick, simple and delicious salad, this is it! This Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad is a Panera copycat. Panera has this salad as part of the catering menu, and it is so good and so easy to recreate at home! Fantastic in the summer when tomatoes, cucumbers and basil are at peak freshness. 

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Ingredients for Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad Panera Copycat

ingredients laid out on table for tomato basil cucumber salad Panera copycat salad

  • Tomatoes. I love using cherry tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes in this salad. You can really use any type of tomato here that you love! 
  • Cucumber. Again, you can use any type of cucumber here. I love English cucumbers in this salad. Those are the ones that are pretty long, seedless and usually sold tightly wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.
  • Sweet onion. There’s a theme here. You can use whatever type of onion you prefer. I love sweet onions here for the flavor profile they add. If you use red onions, I would recommend whisking up the dressing first and adding cut red onions to it to let the onions mellow a bit before adding the rest of the salad ingredients. Red onion has much more of a bite to it than sweet onion, so it changes the salad a bit. 
  • Basil. Is there anything better than fresh summer basil?! Feel free to be liberal here. 
  • Olive oil. This is the base of your dressing in this salad. 
  • Red wine vinegar. I think the pairing of red wine vinegar with these ingredients is perfect, but you could experiment with other vinegar types too! A white wine vinegar or balsamic could be good here.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic yes!! Garlic is a nutritional powerhouse, helping our bodies to boost nitric oxide production and thus lower blood pressure. If you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, heart disease or metabolic syndrome, garlic is something to work into your diet for this reason! Plus, it’s delicious. 
  • Oregano. I used dried here since I always keep that on hand. If you have fresh oregano, you could add that for more herby flavor! You would want to use a 3:1 ratio for fresh to dried, so in this recipe that would come out to adding about 1/2 teaspoon or so of chopped fresh oregano. 
  • Salt & pepper. Always, always season! 

 

Directions to Make Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad Panera Copycat

Gather all of your ingredients and equipment. I find this makes cooking much more enjoyable when you aren’t stopping after every step to find something in the kitchen, so highly recommend getting your mise en place set. 

In your serving bowl, add dressing ingredients – olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, pinch of oregano, salt and pepper. Whisk together until combined. Making a dressing in the actual serving bowl is a win because it reduces the amount of dishes. Love that for us. 

tomato basil cucumber salad dressing ingredients in a white bowl

 

Next, chop up the tomatoes, cucumber and onion. Aim for bite-sized pieces. I typically slice the cucumber in half, and then chop into ¼ inch slices or so.

 For the tomatoes, use a bread knife to slice these babies in half. This is a GAME CHANGER as it results in less juice splashing all over. If you’ve only ever sliced tomatoes with a chef’s knife and this is your first time trying out the bread knife method, you’re welcome.

tomatoes, cucumbers and onion added to white bowl with dressing

Next, you add in the vegetables to the serving bowl with the dressing. Toss to combine and get the vegetables nicely coated with the dressing. 

Lastly, your basil! You can chop this up or tear it up with your hands. I’m partial to the chiffonade method. Stack basil leaves on top of each other, roll into a cigar shape, and slice. This method creates beautiful basil ribbons. It sounds extra, but I actually find it goes faster than regular old chopping. 

basil on cutting board with knife doing chiffonade method to create basil ribbons

 

Add basil to salad, and serve! 

Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad

Riff off of Panera's catering menu item, the Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: tomato basil cucumber salad panera
Servings: 4 cups
Calories: 87kcal
Author: Kelly Wagner, MS, RD, LDN

Equipment

  • bread knife
  • chef's knife
  • cutting board
  • serving bowl

Ingredients

  • 10 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 English cucumber sliced
  • 2/3 cup sweet onions sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • pinch salt to taste
  • pinch black pepper to taste
  • pinch oregano to taste
  • 1/2 cup basil chopped or chiffonade into ribbons

Instructions

  • In your serving bowl, add dressing ingredients – olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, pinch of oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Whisk together until combined.
  • Next, chop up the tomatoes, cucumber and onion.
  • Add in the vegetables to the serving bowl with the dressing. Toss to combine to get the vegetables nicely coated with the dressing.
  • Add basil to serving bowl. Toss to combine, and serve!

Serving Suggestions

This Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad Panera copycat has quickly become a summertime staple for me. Anytime I am grilling and need a quick vegetable side to add, this is a go-to. It pairs well with a protein and a carbohydrate to create a balanced meal. For example, I love this chicken thigh marinade paired with couscous and this Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad. 

This salad goes great with fish as well. Cedar plank salmon is one of my favorites! Pair salmon with this salad and rice for a nutrient-dense and delicious meal. 

If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, try pairing this salad with grilled portobello mushrooms and roasted smashed potatoes

 

FAQ

Is tomato and cucumber salad good for weight loss? 

For many people looking to lose weight, increasing fruits and vegetables is key. This salad is primarily vegetables, so it can certainly be of use to someone working on including more vegetables in their diet. Here at Nutriving, we focus on a variety of ways to measure health and quality of life rather than weight alone with our clients. Feel free to read more about our philosophy and about us as registered dietitians

 

Is tomato and cucumber salad good for you? 

Hell yes! Both tomatoes and cucumbers provide fiber, vitamin C and water content. Tomatoes are a wonderful source of potassium as well and a key antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. We talk more about antioxidants in our Nourished and Empowered group program, as well as in our Personalized Nutrition Analysis for clients we work with 1 on 1. Reach out to us if you want to learn more!

 

Can I make this salad ahead of time? 

This salad surprised me in still tasting good despite being dressed 2 days later! That being said, it will be the most refreshing day of preparation. You could certainly chop the vegetables, and prepare the dressing separate to combine upon serving. Once the vegetables and basil are added in with the dressing, things start to soften. I wouldn’t say this is the best meal prep salad option, but it is a great, quick vegetable dish to keep in your pocket.

 

If you try this recipe, be sure to leave a rating and comment to let us know what you think!

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About the Author: Kelly LaVoie, MS, RD, LDN

I'm a Registered Dietitian (RD) based in Chicago, IL. I have worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings, including dialysis, ICU, as well as one-on-one nutrition counseling and groups.

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