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TIP OF THE DAY: Substitute Citrus For Tomatoes

Last week we profiled the cara cara orange, a mutation from Venezuela with sweet, rosy flesh. Earlier we discussed their rosy-fleshed cousin: the blood orange, native to Sicily.

Before spring and summer fruits arrive, we harness the color and flavor these rosy oranges to bring pizzazz to a green salad. Pink grapefruit works, too.

The concept may seem unusual if one’s mind separates vegetable salads from fruit salads. But replace cherry tomatoes with oranges or pink grapefruit, and your salad will taste much brighter. Berries also add a lift to green salad, but the lively acidity of oranges and grapefruit do a better job.

We took a wonderfully refreshing summer salad from THE NIBBLE’s consulting chef Eric Dantis, and turned it into a something that brightens up a chilly March day.


The flesh of blood oranges ranges from pink to deep rose, above. Photo courtesy


The original recipe follows. “If you want to keep it simple,” says Chef Eric, “just dice up some tomatoes and an equal amount of watermelon and toss with some basil and good sea salt for a super refreshing, clean salad.”


This side salad contains blood oranges, onion
and strawberries. It’s a refreshing side to any
savory dish. Photo by Jerry Deutsch | THE



As tomatoes and watermelon are not yet at their prime, we substituted blood oranges and strawberries in this recipe. That may seem like a lot of substituting, but the lesson is: Don’t be afraid to substitute any ingredients. You may well discover a favorite new combination.

Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup watermelon cut in cubes (or use a melon baller), roughly the size of a cherry tomato
  • Basil cut in thick chiffonade
  • 2 teaspoons chopped onion
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons (or to taste) good extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Good-quality balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Optional: prosciutto or Serrano ham
  • Optional: crumbled feta or goat cheese

    1. MIX halved cherry tomatoes with watermelon cubes in a medium-sized bowl.

    2. STIR in basil and onion.

    3. SEASON with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil to taste.

    4. STIR in balsamic vinegar.

    5. TOP with optional ham and/or cheese, for a sweet and savory bite (this can turn a side salad into a luncheon salad).

    5. SERVE immediately.


  • Once you master this simple and delicious salad and you’re ready to take on the next level of flavor, try this substituting strawberries or peaches for the watermelon. Each will bring a different, but equally refreshing sensation.
  • If you do either substitution, you’ll want to make sure to add the balsamic vinegar, because some added acid is excellent in this application.


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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