Rachel's Table

Guilt-Free Tomato, Basil, and Red Onion Summer Salad

I feel guilty about something. I’m not even sure why I feel guilty about this particular thing.  I didn’t commit a crime, like a hit and run or insurance fraud. In fact, I hurt nothing and no one. I should NOT feel guilty at all.

But such is my nature: riddled with guilt and regret.

This is my guilty face, which is eerily similar to my disappointed face

It all started when I picked up my CSA farm share this afternoon. I already felt guilty about that because I was SUPPOSED to pick it up yesterday at my set-in-stone-for-the-last-two-months time slot. Unfortunately, I was stuck in Philly on a work errand. Toby, my flexible farmer, graciously supplied my farm share this afternoon. I apologized profusely. And guiltily, of course.

Next stop was the farmers market to buy some eggs, cheese, and chicken sausages. I stopped by the produce stand to see the local offerings. I snagged some blueberries, green beans, and mushrooms. Then I spotted the red onions. Not local. Glancing to my left and to my right with shifty eyes, I saw no one staring or pointing at me. I put the non-local red onion in my basket. And bought it.

So you’d think I’d have buyer’s remorse. Honestly, I didn’t. I justified that red onion, considering it a staple like sugar or olive oil. The guilt worked its way out of my shoulders and I breathed a sigh of relief.

I made one more stop before heading home: the dreaded grocery store. I needed personal items like toilet paper and q-tips. As I was making my way through the aisles, I noticed the neat and enticing rows of salad dressing bottles. Old favorites like Hidden Valley Ranch and Wishbone Italian called my name. My local self-discipline kicked in and I pushed the thought out of my mind. Until I saw it.

Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette. My favorite salad dressing of all time.  Impulsively I put it in my cart next to the q-tips.

Why does this feel like cheating?

You may be thinking, Who cares? It’s only salad dressing! You don’t understand. I like to make my own salad dressing with local yogurt and herbs. Brianna’s is from Texas. Texas!? I argued with myself to no avail. Ignoring the guilt, I scanned the bottle at self check- out. I swear the annoying machine said, “Not-on-your-locavore-diet vinaigrette, $3.49. You saved $.49 and gained a guilty conscience.”

At home, I unpacked my purchases, including the lovely items from my farm share. As I set colorful, tiny tomatoes and a bunch of basil on the counter, I had an epiphany.

Epiphany tomatoes

Suddenly everything became clear. I was destined to make a summer salad with tomato, basil, red onion, and Texas salad dressing. The sweet and tangy taste of the vinaigrette was a perfect match for the candy-sweet tomatoes and fresh basil.

I still feel a little guilty, but I don’t regret it.

Guilt-Free Tomato, Basil, and Red Onion Summer Salad


1 pint cherry tomatoes, yellow and red, cut in half lengthwise

1 small red onion, diced

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chiffonade into ribbons

1 – 2 tablespoons Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette, depending on how much dressing you like

Kosher salt

Black pepper

Combine tomatoes, onion, basil, and vinaigrette together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to your desired taste. Enjoy guilt free and with no regrets, even if you eat the whole bowl by yourself.

Worth it


  1. Nicole

    “You saved $.49 and gained a guilty conscience”… exactly why I stay away from those pompous self check-outs. I’ll have to make this for Bry, he’d love it.

  2. Haha! You and I are cut from the same bolt of cloth, my friend. I labor over purchases at the grocery store, but there’s usually a slightly optimum second choice that I can and will validate when the item I really want (the most responsible choice) is absent. And BTW, an onion is TOTALLY a staple, and that salad would not have been as yummy without it! And I vote for Texas anything. Let me know next time you want some of that dressing and I’ll mail it wrapped in a nice velour sweater – which will totally validate the postage. 🙂

    When 99% of what you do (it is a lot of thinking and planning), the 1% is nothing to be guilty about. You are an inspiration to us all. Guilt and all.

    PS – I’ll save ranting on dining out (and the confusion and difficulty in staying that is raised in staying away from meat and dairy) for another day. We are a meat-eating country, that’s for sure.

    • Shannon! You made my morning! Thank you for giving me permission to NOT feel guilty. 🙂

      Velour AND Texas salad dressing? The perfect combination! haha.

      Oh my gosh, don’t even get ME started about eating out. I’ve discovered that a lot of the more expensive restaurants in my area actually do serve local foods, but don’t advertise it. “It’s not important to people,” one restaurant owner told me recently.

      I’m lucky enough to have a really good and well-priced restaurant right near me called Home Grown. They will do anything on their menu vegetarian or vegan. And it’s ALL good.

      • So lucky you are. We have a plethora of fast food chains with only one decent veggie one within a short drive – and that one’s Subway. (Yes, my kids actually groan when we say, “Hey! Let’s go out for dinner!” but are relieved when I let them splurge with a bag of chips.). It’s a 20-30 min drive to get to ANY decent venues over here.

      • Cook? Pft. Pick it, slice it, dice it, eat it. Pretty much sums up how we eat. Veggies don’t need to be cooked! In fact, most are better in their natural state, freshly picked. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

  3. Allie

    Dad said to tell you that he considers anything actually grown or produced in the good old USofA to be local ; ) And your salad sounds “yummy”…not to me, of course, as I am against the evil fruit known as the tomato.

    • You can tell Randall that this salad is delish. He should make it for Pat. I still can’t get over your no tomato rule. I just love them so much, especially the tiny ones.

  4. Hi I am following your blog, and just now I put your blog on my list of blogs that I follow on my front page. BTW, that helps u get more visitors to your blog in at least a couple of ways. U might even think about doing the same for me? either way it is OK.
    Come and visit mine sometime http://www.bradstanton.com Have a great week, love your photo’s.

  5. Pingback: Tomato Addict « Rachel's Table

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