Slightly obsessed

This is what I’ve had for lunch for the past two days. It makes my heart sing.

I got the idea from the trailer for Pioneer Woman’s cooking show. It’s just chunked up tomatoes and minced onions with a vinegar, oil, and—this is key—brown sugar dressing. Plus, basil and parsley.

When I fix it for my lunches, I add feta and perhaps some green olives (black would be good, too), and I butter a piece of sourdough toast and use it like a spoon to scoop up the tomato chunks and to sop up all the juices at the end. Though yesterday I just picked up the bowl and poured the vinegary sweetness directly down my throat.

This dish is reminiscent of a tomato platter my mother used to make. Except that my clearest memories are not of her making it, but of my friend Amber’s mother, Ann, serving it at lunch (or supper) one day when we were visiting. I see the large kitchen table, a picnic table, planted squarely in the middle of the blue and white linoleum checkered kitchen floor, a quaint, well-worn cloth draped over the red wooden slats, little cloth napkins at each plate and jelly glass jars to drink out of. As for the tomatoes, the giant, juicy red and yellow slices were dotted with minced onion and celery, sprinkled with brown sugar and S&P, and drizzled with cider vinegar. Eye candy, they were.

(I’m cringing because Amber, Valerie, and Shelah, all sisters, read this blog and are probably yelling at their computer screens: YOU HAVE IT COMPLETELY WRONG, DORK. Oh dear. I can’t help it that I’m getting old and each new year stretches my memory just that much thinner. I do my best, promise.)

Maybe my mom learned to make this recipe from Ann? Maybe she moaned and smacked her lips and asked questions and took thirds so enthusiastically that that’s how I remember the tomatoes? Perhaps.

Anyway, Ree’s little tomato salad invoked all those old-fashioned flavors and sweet memories and now I’m slightly obsessed with it.

I’m going to feast on this salad as long as summer lasts. And that’s a fact.

Fresh Tomato Salad

Inspired by Ree of The Pioneer Woman

I do not measure for this salad. The tablespoon jargon is just to give you a feeling.

The list looks way longer than it actually feels. Don’t be daunted.

1 large, fresh, juicy red tomato, cut into large chunks

1-2 teaspoons minced onion

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1-2 teaspoons brown sugar


black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1-2 tablespoons feta

2-3 olives, green or black, torn into bits, optional

Toss together the tomato and onion. Put the oil, vinegar, sugar, and S&P into a pint jar and shake till combined. Drizzle over the tomato. Sprinkle with the herbs, feta, and optional olives. Serve with buttered toast for scooping and sopping.

Serves one very happy camper.

This same time, years previous: buttery basil pesto, basil pesto


  • Jennifer Jo

    Anna, I think the tomatoes in the picture are a Russian heirloom tomato, but I'm not sure. I usually plant Romas and standard juice tomatoes, like Big Boy. As for recipes, if you look under my recipe index by ingredient (on the sidebar) and scroll down to "tomatoes," you'll find some goodies.

  • Anonymous

    Oil? I don't remember oil–mm, yum. As for measuring, I'd take a little brown sugar and add enough drops of cider vinegar to make the sugar wet (runny?). Dabbed over the tomatoes, then, the vinegar/sugar melted into the tomato slices' juice.


  • Amber

    It sounds like you got the recipe mostly correct from years gone by. 🙂 The only thing I remember differently is that it was made with white sugar, not brown. Funny that recently I was thinking about that very same tomato platter and I made a simplified version for Jason's birthday yesterday (no minced celery or onion) and ate it with fond memories of growing up. It IS delightful.

  • Zoë

    Hmm, I was thinking about that tomato salad a few weeks ago. And oddly enough, the thought of it doesn't make me gag. Maybe I'll make some before the tomatoes croak…

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