tomato and onion salad

tomato & onion salad

I’m gonna make this one brief; there’s little time. Work has been busy, but I want to post more and give you guys more recipes. And yet I’ve barely any time to type up the recipe, never mind edit the photos and write a few words outside of the cooking instructions. It’s strange to be so busy in August, because August, by my calculation, shouldn’t be busy at all. It should be slow and languid and hot. Well, it got one out of three down, but yowza, August, wanna slow down for me a bit? Just enough for me to catch my breath?

tomato & onion salad

Though to be fair, we did finally get a few cooler days in New York and the weather has grown, as I like to call it, more civilized, at least for the time being. I no longer arrive to work covered in sweat, which is a bonus, not only because it’s sort of gross, but more importantly because the minute I get in to work, I’m hit with such cold temperatures, I should have furry boots under my desk. You get that much colder when you’re sweaty. Thank goodness for that oversized fleece I keep nearby. Still, cooler temperatures and all, it’s still plenty hot out there.

tomato & onion salad

This is a recipe I did for the Real Simple’s blog, Simply Stated, a few weeks ago when they asked me to put together a three ingredient recipe that was perfect for summer months. Barring your usual caprese and prosciutto e melone ideas, I wanted to give you something that was actually a bit revelatory. I know three ingredients sound a bit like cheating, and to be honest with you, I was a little afraid putting this in front of you, except, you see, this recipe here, that’s one of those things I ate as a child by huge bowlfuls. Were you to give me a small shovel in place of a spoon, I would have been even more pleased. Every time I make this, I am, at once, at my grandmother’s for the summer, two hours away from Moscow, surrounded by lush farmland and dense Russian forests.

tomato & onion salad

I know this salad looks so simple, that it’s almost a non-recipe, but I’m okay with that. I’m not trying to pull a fast one on you. This is seriously amazing, delicious, and sings a glorious ode to summer and to tomatoes, which are everywhere right now. These particular tomatoes here come from one of my favorite local farms, but good tomatoes can be found anywhere this time of year. I like make this salad for dinner and eat it with thick slices or rustic sourdough bread. It takes minutes to make, it’s beyond addictive, and it allows tomatoes to really shine. I particularly love the bite of the onion here as it accents the sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes. Plus, when was I able resist anything with sour cream in it? Exactly – never.

tomato & onion salad

4-5 heirloom tomatoes, ripe and fragrant
1/2 medium red onion
1 tbsp sour cream (or Greek-style yogurt)
Salt and pepper to taste


Slice your tomato into thick wedges and your onion into slivers. Add sour cream, and mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

[You will have, after you’re done, this creamy juice left over with some onions swimming in it. I implore you not to throw that out. You know that rustic bread I was referring to? Well, save a piece and dip your bread in the juices. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.]


  • ilya

    Ah, the memories :). My family was always divided in regards to the dressing – some liked sour cream, some (like me) – sunflower oil. It’s clear and smells so good :).

  • julie

    this was absolutely my favorite salad growing up as well (Russian too!). sometimes my mother would also put cucumbers in, but i’m fine with just tomatoes and onion. and maybe a little dill.

    (love the blog by the way… i’ve been reading for a while.)

  • Jenny

    Julie, I make this with cucumbers too (sometimes instead of tomatoes, with a little fresh dill). It’s a summertime classic.

  • lo

    Non-recipe or not, this lovely little salad fits right in with the languidly lazy August repertoire in which we all wish we were taking part. My mother always made something like this with a bit of dill thrown in for good measure (Julie, we must be kinfolk). And it was very, very good.

  • Mynda

    We had it with cukes and dill too (and green onion) … Mom & Grandma called it Farmer’s Chop Suey! I think it may have had celery too. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Molly

    This reminds me of one of my favorite childhood desserts, another 3 ingredient wonder: grapes with sour cream and brown sugar. mmmmmm

  • Gabi

    I have never really cooked with sour cream… I think it has an association with creamy, fatty, unappetizing store-bought mayonnaise in my head. But I am intrigued by your non-recipe! Tomato and onion or tomato and cucumber salads are essentially what I eat for every lunch in the summer. And if it is worth eating with a shovel, I think I need to at least try a little with a spoon.

  • Monika

    My mouth just watered reading this! By virtue alone of being an admirer of all things simple, Real Simple, and Sassy Radish, I must make this.
    (Sounds like New York is having the same summer as Toronto!)

  • Radish

    Gabi – think of sour cream as a less fattening (I think!), slightly tangier version of creme fraiche. It’s absolutely lovely. I do share your fear of mayo and use it rarely, and try to make it myself. Try it and let me know if you like!

  • Katie @ The Well-Fed Newlyweds

    My Russian in-laws introduced me to this salad, and I absolutely love it! Your post reminded me I should be making it with all of the tomatoes I keep picking up from my local produce stand. I think I’ll be eating some tomato and onion salad with dinner tomorrow!

  • Jess

    I love sour cream, too, Olga. I’ve been known to eat small bowls of it plain. I have been eating heirloom tomatoes with Greek yogurt and olive oil every day since I’ve been home, but I think today I’ll have to switch to sour cream, and throw in some onion, too, as you suggest. Also, your note about the juices is essential. Though, I must admit, when I don’t have any bread around, I just tip the bowl and slurp those juices right up. I have no shame. More Russian recipes, please!

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