Esther’s Tomato Salad

This is my version of the tomato salad that my friend Esther always used to make. Unfortunately she passed away much too young. Today would have been her 14th wedding anniversary, so I thought it an appropriate day to tell you about this recipe in her memory.

Esther loved to cook and unfortunately we haven’t cooked much together because we lived too far apart and only saw each other about twice a year. Although her birthday was in February, she liked to celebrate this in summer with a BBQ and she usually made a tomato salad with basil, red onion, olive oil, balsamic, salt, and black pepper. I always loved this salad, and so I started making this myself.

It is difficult to find tasty tomatoes in many countries, because tomatoes have been ‘optimized’ for shelf life, having an unblemished skin, growing quickly, ripening evenly, etc. rather than for taste. I always use the aptly named ‘tasty toms’ tomatoes for this salad. I further enhance the flavor by salting the tomatoes and getting rid of excess water. The added advantage of using this type of tomatoes is that they are small and thus fit into the feeding shaft of my food processor, making it a lot easier to slice dozens of tomatoes.

I don’t have a photo of a fancy presentation because this salad was served on the boat. Like the salmon, chicken yakitori, and cantuccini, it disappeared in minutes.


For about 4 cups (1 liter) of tomato salad

1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) tomatoes, preferably ones with taste

1 small red onion

fresh basil


freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar


Rinse and dry the tomatoes. Cut them into thin slices. I use the food processor for this, making sure to stop and start the food processor for each batch of 3-4 tomatoes and pressing down on them to slice them evenly.

Put the tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle with about 1 Tbsp of salt.

Shake the colander to distribute the salt. Perform this step above the sink, because a lot of juice will be shaken out. Let stand for at least 1 hour to draw out more water.

Shred the basil and mince the red onion very fine.

Put the tomatoes in a bowl and add basil and red onion.

Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to mix.

Taste and add additional salt, freshly ground black pepper, extra virgin olive oil or balsamic vinegar if needed.

10 thoughts on “Esther’s Tomato Salad

  1. Lovely post Stefan. I am 100% with you on the tomato front. I have just finished another post in my French holiday series. It is on pizza and a large part of the prep is the tomato sauce. It won’t post for a few weeks. I am trying to eek out the holiday feeling….


    1. Unfortunately our climate isn’t really that great for tomatoes, that’s why finding good ones in markets is difficult. On top of that, we don’t really have the space and the soil around here is not suitable. Plus we eat so many tomatoes that we would have to grow lots to actually make a difference.


    1. I’ve been making this for years and never thought to do that, but I actually did think about it this time around. Must be your good influence 🙂 I’ll have to taste if it’s not too salty, though.


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