Sierra Summer Tomato Relish

Sierra Summer Tomato Relish
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About This Recipe

Ah, the Sierra Summer Tomato Relish, a gem from the heart of Napa's vineyard-sprinkled hills. As a native of this wine country, I often find that the best dish recipes are born not from fancy culinary schools, but from the scents, sights, and stories of the valley I call home. This recipe emerged on one of those lazy Napa afternoons, when the sun painted gold on the vineyards and the wind carried tales of years gone by.

Imagine walking through Napa's bustling farmer's markets in the summer. The stalls are laden with vine-ripened tomatoes, fragrant basil, and zesty lemons. The murmur of patrons and the clink of wine glasses fill the air. It was here that the idea of creating an authentic recipe, one that embodied the essence of the valley, first dawned on me. Napa, with its wine country aura, was the muse, and the Sierra Summer Tomato Relish was the masterpiece.

For those of you home chefs looking for easy healthy dinners, this relish pairs delightfully with grilled chicken or a soft burrata salad sprinkled with local olive oil. Think farm to table, but in your backyard! As for side dishes, consider a fresh corn salad drizzled with truffle oil from the boutique shops in St. Helena or a wild arugula salad, its peppery notes dancing with a dressing made from Napa's very own balsamic vinegar.

In the mood for dessert after a light summer dinner? Napa's orchards are a haven of plump figs and juicy peaches. A simple tart, filled with mascarpone and topped with these local fruits, can be a treat to the senses. Maybe drizzle it with some honey sourced from the Sonoma county bee farms to add a touch of sweetness that sings of California.

Speaking of Sonoma, while our relish is Napa-inspired, the neighboring county has its own charms. The harmony of flavors in this dish would pair wonderfully with a glass of crisp Chardonnay from Cakebread Cellars or even a sparkling rosé from the ever-iconic Domaine Carneros. Every sip from these wineries feels like you're delving deep into the annals of wine country history, with notes and aromas that narrate tales of yesteryears.

For those curious souls, I'd recommend exploring Napa's local businesses. From the vintage bookstore in downtown Napa to the hidden lavender fields that come alive every summer, the valley is brimming with secrets waiting to be unveiled. But, if you're more of the chef meals at home type, sourcing ingredients from local grocers like Oakville Grocery ensures you're getting that authentic, fresh taste.

To our sommeliers and wine lovers, this recipe is a canvas, and wine is the paint. Experiment with different pairings from Napa's vast wine menu, and perhaps you'll stumble upon a combination that transports you straight to the heart of the valley, where the Sierra breeze plays with the vines and the air smells of ripening grapes.

In all, the Sierra Summer Tomato Relish is not just any recipe; it’s a slice of Napa, an embodiment of the valley's spirit. For anyone seeking healthy dinner ideas that whisk them away to sun-kissed vineyards and tranquil evenings, this dish is your ticket.

Happy cooking, and cheers to your Napa Valley-inspired culinary adventures!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Tomatoes

The Magic of Ripe Tomatoes

Tomatoes are undeniably the star ingredient in the Sierra Summer Tomato Relish. Native to western South America, tomatoes have become a staple in cuisines across the globe. They're not just versatile in cooking; they're also packed with nutrients. Rich in vitamins C and K, potassium, folate, and lycopene, tomatoes contribute to heart health, skin health, and may even reduce the risk of certain cancers.

When selecting tomatoes for this relish, opt for ones that are deeply colored, firm with a slight give, and heavy for their size. This ensures they're ripe, juicy, and full of flavor. Vine-ripened tomatoes, especially from Napa's local markets, will elevate your relish to the next level, offering a sweetness and acidity balance that perfectly complements the other ingredients in this dish.

How to Perfectly Dice Tomatoes

  1. Wash the Tomato: Always start by thoroughly washing the tomato under cold water.
  2. Remove the Core: Using a paring knife, cut a cone-shaped section out of the top of the tomato where the stem connects.
  3. Slice in Half: Cut the tomato in half horizontally.
  4. Make Vertical Cuts: With the flat side down, make evenly spaced vertical slices without cutting all the way through the tomato.
  5. Horizontal Slices: Turn the tomato and make horizontal slices, resulting in perfectly diced pieces.

FAQs About Sierra Summer Tomato Relish

  1. Can I use a different type of vinegar if I don’t have red wine vinegar from the Napa Valley? Absolutely! While Napa Valley red wine vinegar brings a unique depth of flavor, you can substitute with regular red wine vinegar or even apple cider vinegar. The key is to ensure the acidity level complements the sweetness of the tomatoes.
  2. How should I store leftover tomato relish? Store leftover relish in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Because of the fresh ingredients, it's best consumed within this timeframe.
  3. Can I make this relish spicy? Yes! Feel free to increase the amount of crushed red pepper flakes for an added kick or even introduce a diced jalapeño or serrano pepper for a different spicy twist.
  4. Any recommendations for gluten-free or vegan modifications? This relish is naturally gluten-free and vegan. Ensure any accompaniments or main dishes you serve it with adhere to those dietary restrictions if necessary.
  5. What can I do if my relish turns out too watery? Tomatoes naturally release water, especially when salted. If you find your relish too watery, you can drain off some liquid or let the relish sit for a longer time in the refrigerator, which allows the flavors to intensify.

Tips for Success

  1. Let It Marinate: Patience is key. Allowing the relish to sit for at least 30 minutes or more lets the flavors meld and deepen. Overnight refrigeration can result in an even more flavorful relish.
  2. Use Fresh Herbs: The difference between dried and fresh herbs is significant in dishes like this. Fresh basil and oregano provide a burst of flavor that dried herbs simply can't replicate.
  3. Taste and Adjust: Always taste your relish before serving. Depending on the ripeness and sweetness of your tomatoes, you may need to adjust the seasoning. A little more salt, a touch more sugar, or an extra splash of vinegar can make all the difference.

Armed with these insights, you're set to create a tomato relish that not only embodies the essence of Napa but also showcases your culinary prowess. Enjoy your cooking journey with the Sierra Summer Tomato Relish and let the flavors transport you straight to the sun-kissed vineyards of Napa Valley.

Recipe Overview

Sierra Summer Tomato Relish
Lily Anderson
6 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 6 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (from the Napa Valley, if possible!)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional for a little kick)
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, red onion, and garlic.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  3. Pour the dressing over the tomato mixture and gently mix.
  4. Stir in the basil, oregano, and lemon zest until well combined.
  5. Allow the relish to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. This lets the flavors meld together beautifully.
  6. Serve chilled or at room temperature with grilled meats, fish, or as a refreshing side dish.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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