Oddball Tomato Salad

August 8, 2014


Okay, this recipe is going to sound totally off-the-wall weirdo, but hear me out. It works, somehow. Even though tomatoes are gorgeous right now and it seems silly to gild the lily*, I did some gilding the other day and I was surprised with the result.

You can actually make summer tomatoes taste even more tomato-ey. Crazy, right?

Remember how I said that our bumper crop of basil and mint was resulting in a lot of Vietnamese dinners at the house of T? Another result of those dinners is a bunch of leftover nuoc cham. Nuoc cham is a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce/salad dressing. You dunk summer rolls in it, you toss your noodle dishes with it, you drizzle it over grilled meat and fish. If you’ve ever eaten Vietnamese food in a restaurant, I’m pretty sure you’ve eaten nuoc cham, whether you were aware of it or not.

I happen to love it. It’s a little sweet, a little salty, a little zingy.

I’m also drowning in the stuff, so I’m looking for other uses for it.

I drizzled it over a platter of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes the other day, figuring that hey, I drizzle vinaigrette over tomatoes all the time, so why not try Vietnamese vinaigrette, which is basically what nuoc cham is?

I threw in some fresh basil (duh) and a crumble of salty cheese, just for good measure. Basil and salty cheese improves everything, in my book.

It was a delicious experiment. Something about the nuoc cham–I think it’s the fish sauce (don’t fear the fish sauce!)–makes the tomatoes taste even more like themselves, if that makes any sense. I don’t know how to explain it, but it does.

Now don’t turn up your nose at the fish sauce–it really doesn’t overpower or make trouty-tasting tomatoes. We’re talking a drizzle of nuoc cham, not a bath. Plus, then you’ll have leftover nuoc cham, which gives you an excuse to make noodle bowls! More noodle bowls in your life is a happy thing.

I dare you.


Oddball Tomato Salad

sliced, diced or chunked organic heirloom tomatoes

crumbled feta

fresh basil leaves

cracked pepper

drizzle of nuoc cham


Nuoc Cham:

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 clove chopped garlic

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup warm water

1-2 fresh jalapenos or 1 fresh Thai chile, thinly sliced


*the term “gild the lily”–where did that come from, I wonder? Any guesses? It’s weird.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Justine August 8, 2014 at 9:09 am

Ooh…this sounds really interesting. Anything with tomatoes is a winner this time of the year.


Jamie August 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

You had me at tomoato! Yummmm

Am I the only person under 90 that eats salted tomato slices for a snack?


Dana Talusani August 8, 2014 at 12:17 pm


I do. With plenty of pepper, too.


Jenny Hartin August 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

I’m in Colorado and my tomatoes are babies still. This is my first year here so I am a little confused on the planting and growing situation. Salad looks great.


Dana Talusani August 8, 2014 at 12:18 pm


The tomatoes in my garden are babies still, too. I always have the weirdest time figuring out the Tao of Tomato in these Rocky Mountains. You are not alone!


Pamela August 8, 2014 at 11:11 am

I am eating this tonight!!


Dana Talusani August 8, 2014 at 12:19 pm


Did your craving for tomatoes overpower the juice cleanse? I feel so smug and giddy at the thought.


Annie August 8, 2014 at 11:18 am

Trouty tasting tomatoes- I think that is one if your best phrases yet. This recipe is only another of the countless reasons I love you. Making it pronto.


S in AK August 8, 2014 at 3:43 pm

“Trouty tasting tomatoes” was my favorite phrase in this post, too. A perfect blend of vibrant imagery and alliteration! :D


Dana Talusani August 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm


I know! I’m such a dork! But I’m glad it made you smile. xoxo


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me August 8, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Anything with “tomato” and “oddball” in it sounds like something I should try. Love how you said this makes tomatoes taste more like themselves. I understand that. And this looks completely like something I should have for dinner.
Fish sauce is not as nasty as it sounds – thank goodness. It just sounds icky.


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me August 8, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Ooh, I forgot! OK, actually I got totally distracted when I was commenting and now, hours later, I’m back at my desk. The gilded lily thing? Shakespeare. Sort of. (Forgive me – my English major is showing.) It’s actually a misquote from the play King John. John’s second coronation is being discussed, and the opinion expressed is that it is completely superfluous and unnecessary. So at risk of appearing a literary snob (really it’s just my totally introverted geekdom that keeps me buried in my pages), there it is. And that, really, is the answer to the question, “what do you do with a BA in English?” :D


Dana Talusani August 9, 2014 at 12:25 pm


That’s awesome!


Alison August 8, 2014 at 11:36 pm

You’re some kind of culinary genius!


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes August 11, 2014 at 6:15 am

You had me at ‘zingy’.


Tiffany August 11, 2014 at 6:42 am

I am drowning in fresh tomatoes…will definitely have to try this!


Biz August 12, 2014 at 9:28 am

I was actually going to make homemade potstickers one night this week and was going to search for a dipping sauce – now I don’t have to!

And salty cheese makes everything better. And hot sauce. And wine. :D


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