Updating a summer salad by way of a way-back machine

  • Smothered Tomatoes, Cucumber and Onion salad makes use of the best produce found at a summer farmers market.

    Smothered Tomatoes, Cucumber and Onion salad makes use of the best produce found at a summer farmers market. Courtesy of Don Mauer

Posted6/22/2022 6:00 AM

Let's climb into my way-back machine and head to nearly 13 years ago: 2009.

That summer, I wrote a column about spending a sensational, sunny weekend at Green Mountain Lake in Stanardsville, Virginia. One of the great things I was able to do that weekend was learn how to wake surf behind a boat built for wakeboard surfing. The boat tips slightly to one side and creates a wake that, once you're in it and upright, you're surfing.


I drank some of that learning-to-wake surf. Once finally up, though, it was an absolute blast.

On Saturday evening of that weekend, a large group of friends got together to barbecue and share side-dish goodies. One of those side dishes was a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad dressed with a slightly sweet, creamy dressing.

That salad was so good I asked for the recipe. Instead of a written recipe, I got a brief explanation that the veggies are mixed with a dressing made from red wine vinegar, mayonnaise and sour cream.

Returning home, I wanted to make that special salad, and since at that time I was fat-focused, I proceeded to re-create that salad using fat-free mayonnaise and fat-reduced sour cream along with red wine vinegar. My dressing turned out pink, which didn't matter much, except for having to answer: "Why is the dressing pink?"

My way-back machine brought me back so I could make that salad again, with some 2022 twists. Here's my story.

Last weekend a couples group to which I belong nicknamed "Four Chefs" got together for the first time in nearly 2½ years (COVID-19, you know). In this group, four men do all the cooking and show off a little, while all eight get to dine and converse through the afternoon and early evening.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

One of the chefs smoked beef brisket, a pork butt and chicken breasts. Knowing that menu and my usual visit to a Saturday-morning farmers market helped me decide to bring my smothered salad with an updated dressing.

At the farmers market, I found some beautiful yellow (Sun Gold) cherry tomatoes and some tasty red cherry tomatoes. A farmer had brought garden-fresh organic dill that I couldn't resist.

My original salad didn't include dill, but I knew it would not harm this salad.

No fat-free mayo like I'd used 13 years ago. No. I went with my favorite avocado oil mayo that is also sugar-free. This time I got to use an organic sour cream made without the thickeners and stabilizers frequently used in low-fat sour creams of the past. I switched to rice vinegar, which is slightly less acidic than red wine vinegar while avoiding the pink hue.

I cut the cherry tomatoes into halves, chopped the onion into small dice, cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, and then cut the halves into matching slices on my mandoline. I whisked together the dressing with the fresh dill, tasted it to adjust the seasoning, and then stirred it into my salad.


How was it?

At least as good as the one I remembered from 13 years ago, and it got eight thumbs ups at the dinner. There was none to bring home.

Give it a try.

• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at 1leanwizard@gmail.com.

Ingredients fresh from the farmers market shine in this Smothered Tomatoes, Cucumber and Onion salad.
Ingredients fresh from the farmers market shine in this Smothered Tomatoes, Cucumber and Onion salad. - Courtesy of Don Mauer
Smothered Tomatoes, Cucumber and Onion

½ cup sugar-free avocado oil mayonnaise

¼ cup organic sour cream

1½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill leaves

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

1 packet organic stevia (or other natural sugar substitutes -- equal to 2 teaspoons sugar)

1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup red cherry tomatoes, halved

1 English or hothouse cucumber (8 to 10 ounces), halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch slices

¼ medium-large red onion, minced

Whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, dill, salt, pepper and stevia together in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add tomato, cucumber and onion and, with a large rubber spatula, stir and fold until coated with dressing. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Serves 8

Nutrition values per serving: 152 calories (80.5% from fat), 13.6 g fat (3.3 g saturated fat), 5.6 g carbohydrates (4.3 net carbs), 3.6 g sugars, 1.3 g fiber, 1.1 g protein, 10 mg cholesterol, 341 mg sodium.

Don Mauer

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.