Not too long ago, I made my fave Yogurt Marinated Shish Kebabs and was thinking about what would be a killer side. I ended up being inspired by a Turkish recipe, Ezme. I just borrowed some of the flavors, riffed on some of them, and came up with this killer Bell Pepper and Tomato Salad.
A real honest to goodness Ezme is tomato and spices and green onion, and sometimes peppers all chopped and mashed into a condiment, but I was really thinking “salad” as I tossed this together from what I had in the pantry and fridge. It’s turned out to be a family fave!
About Bell Pepper and Tomato Salad:
This salad is cool and refreshing with a slight heat from the Sweet Chili Sauce that I used instead of an array of spices to bring in a bit of sweet heat. It has just a little zing from the red wine vinegar and the bit of tomato paste just rounds the flavors out and intensifies the tomato in the salad. Think of the dressing in this salad as being kind of a perky Catalina dressing.
Bell Pepper and Tomato Salad is one of those dishes that’s going to make you sit up and take notice. Best of all, it’s drop-dead simple and seems to go over equally well with adults and children (watch the heat level, though, if serving “littles”.) That hot pepper is completely optional and the bit of Sweet Chili Sauce isn’t hot enough to make the salad spicy. Of course, feel free to add more if that’s your thing.
This little salad has become a quick and handy go-to all summer long at our house. It’s best with great tomatoes, duh, but will simply transform a grocery store tomato. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself craving this salad with its sweet/spicy flavors and making it all the time. Try it with cherry tomatoes – off-season they seem to taste better than the larger ones.
What to Serve this Salad With:
Although I didn’t show either of these recipes with this salad, it really is a go-to when I make either of my Chicken Shish Kebabs. The first is Yogurt Marinated Shish Kebabs and they’re a little spicy, and the second is every bit as delish but much milder Greek Yogurt Shish Kebabs. Too bad I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t give them more distinct names!
And in addition to those recipes, this salad goes with just about anything! If what you’re serving isn’t already summery, this salad will bring summer to the table. I love it, too, as a side with just about any Middle Eastern Recipe. Try it as a side with sandwiches, burgers, or wherever you’d like a little fresh color and some zip. I even served it the other day with my Mushroom Kale Oven Pancakes!
Make ahead & options for leftovers of Bell Pepper and Tomato Salad:
Because it takes a bit of time for all the flavors to blend in this simple salad, this is a great make-ahead option for dinner or a party, or a potluck. It just gets better with time.
I’ve started riffing on this quick little salad, making extra just so that I have leftovers. Then I change things up. I might (apparently leave out the bell peppers as I appear to have done in these photos, lol) or toss in some red onions, maybe some chickpeas, cooked couscous or leftover rice, or another grain like farro or bulgar. If I have a little bread that’s getting crusty, I’ll add it right into the salad and make my own little spicy Panzanella.
It never hurts to hunt around the fridge and see what you might have on hand to toss in, leftovers or not.
You can’t go wrong with tossing any leftover tomato salad into the food processor and breaking it down a bit then spooning it over hummus or serving it on a flatbread or crostini. Maybe with a little Feta cheese. It’s like a sweet tangy salad condiment salsa all rolled into one easy little recipe.
Saving Money on Bell Pepper and Tomato Salad:
Your greatest savings and the greatest taste is going to come from buying these ingredients in season. Any tomato from heirlooms to cherry tomatoes can be used, and any color of pepper, too. Pick your produce, like the tomatoes & bell peppers, up when they are on sale and buy enough for the next week, too, as both keep well. When choosing tomatoes, choose a mix of ripe and not-quite-so-ripe.
Sweet Chili Sauce is the surprise ingredient in Bell Pepper and Tomato Salad. I try to pick up my Asian ingredients during the Lunar (Chinese) New Year’s sales, often unadvertised. If you have an Asian market nearby, you’ll be surprised by the low prices.
Tomato paste goes on sale regularly and is one of those items that often have coupons. Keep your eye on your coupon matching site (it’s worth it – they note great bargains whether coupons are used or not) and stock up when it’s at a low. Vinegar – buy for the year during the Easter sales, or on sales sporadically through the summer.
When summer rolls around and the tomatoes start rolling in (now why did that make me think of that old movie “The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? I’m so warped, sometimes and I don’t even know where that came from. It was lost, floating around in the recesses of my brain I guess; it’s probably been in there since 1978! lol) I hope you’ll think of this recipe.
It’s always nice to have an easy toss-together option for the table; a back-pocket recipe, so to speak!
See ya next time!
bell pepper & tomato salad
A fun, fresh and easy play off of the Turkish salad Ezme. It’s a perfect summer side. Cut it finely or leave in larger chunks.
- 1 large bell pepper, preferably yellow or orange, diced
- 3 plum tomatoes or equivalent amount of another type of tomato, seeded and diced
- 1 hot pepper, diced, Fresno or Jalapeno, optional
- 2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, optional
- 1 tablespoon Sweet Chili sauce, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
Mix the together the bell peppers, tomato, hot pepper if using, along with green onion & parsley.
In a small bowl, mix the Sweet Chili sauce, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the vegetables and mix.
May be served immediately, but best if it has some time to sit, an hour or so. Keeps well for several days.
Salad may be chopped finely as a condiment, or in small or bite-sized pieces depending on your preference.