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Picture of "Fresh Tomato Relish"

I am not a vegetarian, but there are some recipes that make me think I could be. This recipe for "A Fresh Tomato Relish" is one of them.  At the very least, it's a healthy and delicious summer treat.

My photography skills aren’t the best, but this tomato relish kinda is. It comes from page 212 of Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, one of my favorite summer cookbooks. It's simple, delicious and filling. I put it on some toasted Italian Bread with a smear of Ricotta for a fast, healthy lunch. The recipes in Vegetable Literacy are simple but not obvious. No matter what vegetable ends up on sale from our local supermarket, this book has a way of handling it. It divides vegetables up by families, explains how each family of vegetable can be used, and has a selection of delicious recipes to use.

When supermarket sales throw me a real curve ball, I turn to two other books.  


The first is The Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. I use this book (and it's companion The Flavor Bible) all the time. My grocery store seems to have a large number of squash that go on sale, but I have no idea what to do with them. I can find most in this reference book. Each entry for the vegetables includes a list of the techniques used to cook it, the flavors that go with it and a recipe idea. It’s it information that allows you to use whatever you find on sale or a compatible new element to an existing recipe.  

The second is my battle tome for handling anything in the kitchen, The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. This James Beard award winning cookbook covers a lot of fundamentals, including proper food safety!  J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has made a career of explaining the science behind food and cooking in plain language. For example, check out this recipe for Fast Easy Pasta Blistered Cherry Tomato Sauce or Ultra Gooey Stovetop Mac and Cheese that J. Kenji Lopez-Alt for a healthy and not so healthy vegetarian pasta dish.

If "The Food Lab" sounds intimidating, then I suggest you try Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. It's straightforward, simple and filled with techniques for handling a large array of ingredients. If you are just getting started in the kitchen, the "How To Cook Everything" series by Bittman is a great series that contains technique, advice and easy to execute recipes.

Recipe: Fresh Tomato Relish


  • 1 large shallot, diced 
  • Good quality Vinegar (I used balsamic) 
  • 1 pint various mixed fruit tomatoes 
  • Olive Oil 
  • A small amount of Herbs (optional, but I used a little bit of fresh oregano)
  • Salt & Pepper 


  • Cover diced shallot with a few tablespoons of vingegar, and let it sit. 
  • Cut tomatoes into bite sized pieces (halves or quarters of cherry tomatoes) 
  • Add shallot & vinegar to tomatoes 
  • Pour over olive oil, add herbs if using. 
  • Add a little pepper and gently fold it together. Don’t add salt until just before serving.  
  • I ate mine on some toasted Italian bread with a spread of Ricotta. It was surprisingly filling.