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Tomato and Onion Salad

This sweet, tangy marinated tomato and onion salad with homemade Catalina dressing creates a colorful side dish even when tomatoes are not at their best.

It’s fresh, delicious and vibrant. There is no need for an extra salad plate (I love that) and, best of all, you can serve it all year round.

tomato onion salad in dressing in a black bowl

My mother (Jenna’s grandmother) started making this salad back in the 60’s. We serve it at almost every family event. Most tomatoes in the winter have no flavor, but adding the Catalina dressing and green onions takes care of that.

I confess that our family recipe was made with Kraft Catalina dressing. I now prefer to make my own salad dressings (for the most part), so I decided to give it a shot.  

Sure enough, I found a 1960’s Catalina Dressing recipe on food.com – with great reviews to boot. I tried it several times and it comes out great. I tweaked it a touch to my taste – less sugar and vinegar, but feel free to adapt it to your own taste.  

The salad only takes about 15 minutes to put together (even with the homemade dressing) and another hour or so to sit and blend the flavors.

What to serve with marinated tomatoes

I serve this marinated tomato salad with just about anything – meat, chicken, turkey or fish. It’s great for buffets and potlucks. And even as a great topping for burgers like our sous vide burgers, veggie burgers or chicken burgers.

It’s also a perfect accompaniment with lox and bagels for brunch or as a Christmas salad side dish, especially served in a glass bowl where you peer through at the beautiful red and green colors.  

Finally, the marinated tomatoes are a great side dish with Vegetable Chicken Meatloaf, Grilled Chili Lime Chicken Wings, grilled marinated flank steak, stuffed salmon with lemon ricotta or Classic Prime Rib Roast.

Step by step

tomato onion salad in dressing in a black bowll p

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Add diced avocado before serving
  • Garnish with finely chopped fresh herbs like parsley, fresh dill, thyme, fresh basil or chives
  • Sprinkle on crumbled goat cheese
  • Substitutes:
    • Use any other vinaigrette dressing instead of Catalina
    • Use white wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar
    • Try chopped sweet onions instead of green onions (but I prefer the milder and more colorful green onions for this tomato salad)

FAQ

Is Catalina and French dressing the same thing?

No. According to Wikipedia, the modern version of French dressing is sweet and colored orange-to-red from the use of paprika and tomatoes. French dressing is generally pale orange and creamy, while “Catalina French dressing” is bright red, thinner and less creamy. For this recipe, either would be fine.

What tomatoes can I for this recipe?

Any tomatoes will work – cocktail, grape, cherry tomatoes, field, plum, beefsteak, heirloom tomatoes.

Shortcut for Marinated Tomato Salad

  • Use bottled Catalina dressing. I did this for years and it’s great.

Make Ahead

  • If you have the time, the tomato and onion salad should be made an hour ahead to allow the flavors to blend.
  • Or make it a day ahead and keep it covered in an airtight container in the fridge.

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tomato onion salad in dressing in a black bowl
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Tomato and Onion Salad

This sweet, tangy Marinated Tomato Salad with homemade Catalina dressing creates a colorful side dish even when tomatoes are not at their best.
Prep Time15 mins
Marinating Time 1 hr or overnight1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, Note 2 (I use about 9-10 larger cocktail tomatoes)
  • salt
  • 4 green onions

Catalina Dressing, Note 1

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoon sugar (or 1 1/2 of you prefer less sweet)
  • 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup neutral tasting olive oil or Canola oil

Instructions

  • PREPARE TOMATOES AND GREEN ONIONS: Finely chop green onions. Slice tomatoes to 1/4 or 1/2 inch thick. If you are using regular tomatoes, you can cut each slice in half. If you have very juicy tomatoes with lots of seeds, I grab a bunch at a time and give them a good squeeze between my two hands over the sink. This will prevent the salad from becoming too watery.
  • MAKE THE CATALINA DRESSING: In a food processor or blender, add all Catalina Dressing ingredients except oil. Pulse a few times until blended. Slowly add the oil and process for a minute. Alternatively, whisk ingredients together in a bowl and slowly add in oil while whisking until thickened.
  • LAYER THE TOMATO SALAD INGREDIENTS: In a medium bowl (glass if possible to see all the colours), add a tablespoon or so of dressing to cover the bottom. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on top of dressing. Lightly sprinkle tomatoes with salt. Sprinkle with some green onions. Repeat layers, ending with green onions. Cover and let sit for an hour or two on the counter or up to one day in the fridge to blend the flavors. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Notes

  1. Catalina dressing shortcut: instead of making the dressing, buy a bottle of Catalina or French dressing. Great shortcut I use all the time.
  2. Type of tomatoes to use: any kind – cocktail, grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, field, plum, beefsteak tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes. 
  3. Variations and substitutes: 
    • Add diced avocado before serving
    • Garnish with finely chopped fresh herbs like fresh parsley, fresh dill, thyme, fresh basil or chives
    • Sprinkle on crumbled goat cheese, fresh mozzarella or feta cheese
    • Substitutes:
      • Use any other vinaigrette dressing instead of Catalina
      • Use white wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar
      • Try chopped sweet onions instead of green onions (but I prefer the milder and more colorful green onions for this tomato salad)
  4. Make Ahead: the recipe can be made a day ahead and kept, covered in an airtight container, in the fridge. If you have time, let the tomato salad sit for an hour before serving to let the flavors blend.
 
Nutrition values are estimates. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Tomato and Onion Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 246 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Sodium 236mg10%
Potassium 292mg8%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 1012IU20%
Vitamin C 15mg18%
Calcium 20mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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