This simple Polish tomato salad is a refreshing and light dish that showcases the flavors of fresh tomatoes. It’s a perfect summer side dish ready in 20 minutes.
Recipe At a Glance
Here’s a quick rundown of what you’re getting into with this recipe:
- Effortlessly quick. Despite the 15-minute wait to allow the onions to sweat, you can simultaneously prep the rest of the ingredients. Depending on your knack for chopping veggies, the entire salad can be ready in a brisk 20 to 25 minutes.
- Straightforward ingredients. The recipe calls for basic kitchen staples: tomatoes, an onion, a dollop of sour cream, and a few spices. Nothing overly elaborate, and chances are everything you need is already in your kitchen. If not, read the ingredients notes for suitable alternatives.
- Seasonal. This recipe thrives on the freshness and taste of in-season tomatoes. Bland tomatoes (like the ones often found in winter) would result in a bland salad – there’s no escaping this fact.
If you’re making Polish Tomato Salad for the first time, read the ingredients notes, step-by-step instructions, and tips. If you’re a veteran, feel free to jump to the recipe card.
Ingredients Notes and Substitutes
- Tomatoes. In-season tomatoes are what you’re looking for. Red, yellow, orange, or heirloom tomatoes are all fine. You could even sub in cherry tomatoes, but that’s a lot of cutting.
- Red onion. You can sub in yellow onions, shallots, or even bulbs of green onions. Choosing either won’t make or break the recipe.
- Sour cream. Sour cream is the best option, but some dense yogurt (say Greek yogurt or skyr) should work okay. Consider adding a squeeze of lemon juice if you’re using a substitute to make up for the lack of tanginess.
- Salt. Regular table salt or kosher salt is perfectly fine.
- Dill. If you’re looking to add some herbs to the mix, dill is the perfect option. Totally optional, tough.
- Prep onions. Slice them into thin pieces from top to bottom. Then, cut these slices in half and once more into quarters to get small quarter-length strips of onion. Or simply dice the onions. We need the onion pieces to be small so that salt can easily penetrate and soften them.
- Sweat onions. Add salt to the chopped onions and stir everything well. Set the onions aside for at least 15 minutes, allowing them to sweat and soften.
- Prep the tomatoes. While the onions are sweating, turn your attention to the tomatoes. Begin by washing them thoroughly, then quarter them and cut out the core. Now, cut each quarter into three or four slices and chop these slices into two or three parts each. This way, you get nice, bite-sized chunks of tomato. If you’re adding fresh dill, that’s the moment to chop it up.
- Combine. After the 15-minute mark, your onions should have softened. It’s time to combine everything. In a bowl, add your tomatoes, onions, sour cream, dill (if using), and sprinkle some pepper. Stir the ingredients well. Feel free to add more sour cream if you like, up to double the suggested amount.
- Season to taste. Taste the mixture. If it needs more salt, pepper, or acidity, adjust accordingly. For acidity, lemon juice is best, but a splash of apple cider vinegar should work fine, too. This is all about seasoning the salad to your preferences.
- Serve. Serve this salad immediately in small bowls on the side. The salad is fairly watery from the get-go, so it’s best to keep it separate from the other foods. Unless you want tomato juice mixed with sour cream all over your plate, of course.
Here are a few things worth remembering when prepping this salad:
- Choose ripe, in-season tomatoes: The key to a flavorful tomato salad is using ripe tomatoes that are in season. Avoid using off-season tomatoes as they tend to taste pretty bland. Look for fresh, local tomatoes that are at their peak of ripeness.
- Combine right before serving. This salad gets watery over time. So if you’ve chopped enough tomatoes for two meals’ worth of this salad, don’t stir in the whole sour cream right away. Instead, prep enough for today, and store the leftover tomato chunks and onions in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them. And mix in the sour cream when you’re ready to serve the salad.
How to Serve
Need ideas on how to make it a whole meal? Here’s a simple approach:
- Start with a protein source. This Polish tomato salad is pretty versatile, so you can go with the protein source of choice. Options include cooked chicken, beef, pork, salmon, or any vegetarian or vegan protein source you prefer. If you’re looking for another popular Polish recipe, try my breaded pork cutlets or make some meat pierogi. Or go with lentil pierogi if you’re vegan.
- Pair it with a substantial side: Since the salad is light, it’s a good idea to serve it with a more substantial side dish. Consider options like grains (such as rice), mashed potatoes, or any other chunky and caloric side that complements the flavors of the salad and works well with your protein source of choice. If you’ve got some leftover mashed potatoes and are feeling fancy, check out my Polish potato dumplings recipe.
- Add the salad.
To store Polish Tomato Salad, transfer the leftovers into an airtight container, seal it tight, and refrigerate. You can keep it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
That said, the salad becomes more watery as it sits in the fridge, so it’s best to either finish it in one sitting or store the tomatoes and onions mix separately from the sour cream.
But what if you’ve already stirred everything together and want to make the best out of it?
Here are a few ideas:
- Strain some of the excess water before serving. The easiest way to improve the texture of a watery salad is to strain some of the liquid.
- Add sour cream. You can add back in a teaspoon or two of sour cream to make the salad more creamy.
- Season to taste. If you’ve strained some water or added sour cream, taste the leftovers before serving. You might need to add some salt or pepper back in to fix the flavor.
Again, the salad won’t be as good as it was right after you’ve whipped it, but that should help you get it to an acceptable state.
Polish Tomato Salad
- 2 large tomatoes or 3 to 4 smaller ones
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- Onions Prep. Thinly slice onions into quarter-length strips or dice them for better salt absorption.
- Onions Sweat. Salt the onions, mix well, and leave aside for 15 minutes to soften.
- Tomatoes Prep. In the meantime, wash, quarter, and core the tomatoes. Cut each quarter into multiple pieces for bite-sized chunks. If you’re adding dill, chop it now.
- Combine. Once the onions have softened, mix them with tomatoes, sour cream, dill (if using), and a sprinkle of pepper.
- Adjust. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, or acidity to your liking. For acidity, consider lemon juice or a splash of apple cider vinegar.
- Serve. Due to its watery nature, serve the salad immediately in separate small bowls.