Late summer heirloom tomato salad with tarragon-buttermilk dressing

September 11, 2014 Published by Dina

I am not going to wax poetic about the change of season. Or am I? We bloggers tend to do that. I will say however that summer seems to be retreating and fall is in the air. Mornings are cool, the sun sets early amd the days are shorter. A trip to the farmers market makes you wonder where all the tomatoes and summer berries go. Apples and pear are stacked on the stands now and even winter squash is already here. How did that happen? Where did the summer go?

I am reflecting on the summer months that passed. Did I make the most of it? Did I cook enough with peas? with slender green beans? new potatoes? Did I lounge enough in the hammock this summer? spent enough time with friends? went on enough sailings? sat enough on the patio long into the warm evenings? I answer yes to some and no to others.

This time of year tends to make me nostalgic and reflective. I am not ready to let go of my beautiful herbs on the rooftop patio, where I can step outside and pick any fresh herb for the food I am making or photographing. I am not ready to let the hydrangeas go quite yet, or put away the hammock and the swing, the outdoor furniture, or close down my beautiful and fun outdoor kitchen. I am not ready for any of that.

Thankfully, I have a little more time before all this happens. The change is more gradual and I’ll make the adjustment. I will soon get excited about the change of season and the new produce it brings to the market. Soups will be simmering in the kitchen, pasta will bake in the oven with gooey cheese melting on top, the fireplace will be lit. I will pull out my favourite knitwear and ankle boots, my signature shawls and bold jewelry. I will change with the season.


Summer heirloom tomatoes

Summer heirloom tomatoes

In the meantime I want to make the most of what is left of summer. At an event I attended a few days ago Chef Mark Filatow prepared a beautiful salad of organic arugula, cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes with tarragon and buttermilk dressing. I bought beautiful tomatoes at a small farmers stand along the road where I like to get summer tomatoes. After going there all summer to boxes and boxes of red and ripe tomatoes of many varieties, it was down to one box on the corner, shoved to the side to make room for all the new produce. I stood over the box and picked the tomatoes one by one, small, round, just ripe enough but still a little firm. I wanted to make that salad at home and these tomatoes would be perfect for it. I didn’t ask the chef for the recipe but I am pretty comfortable in the kitchen and can come up with my own version.

Now that I have made it I am sharing it with you. We enjoyed it alongside buttery potatoes and the last of the slender green beans. It was a definite success. The dressing makes more that you need for the recipe. It keeps in the fridge in a glass jar and can be used on other salads or vegetables.



About 1 lb small ripe but firm tomatoes or as needed

Tomato salad with tarragon dressing2 Cucumbers

1/2 small onion, sliced

Buttermilk dressing:

1/2 small onion, minced

2 teaspoons dry mustard powder

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup cream

1 teaspoon coarse alt

2-3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped




Cut the tomatoes in half or quarter, depending on their size.

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then slice horizontally into 1/4-1/2 inch slices.

Combine tomatoes, cucumber and onion in a bowl.

Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk well.

Drizzle just enough of the dressing over the tomatoes and cucumbers and mix gently. Don’t drown the salad in the dressing, you can always serve additional dressing on the side.

Serve at once.


Tomato salad with tarragon dressing

Tomato salad with tarragon dressing





  • George Honke says:

    To the point, tried it loved it. It seems to survive a night in the fridge and the next morning I finished the left over.

  • Laura G says:

    More than any other fruit or vegetable, farm fresh tomatoes are the highlight of the summer for me. Your salad looks delicious and I’d love a taste of that dressing. While it’s a key herb in French cooking, I think tarragon is under-utilized in North America. I love it! I’m also sorry to see summers end but I’m equally excited for fall. September and October are my favourite months of the year.