Short Stacks Aren’t Just for Pancakes

By Karen Schulz

When I think of summer, I immediately think of lobster, fresh corn on the cob, and glorious tomatoes of all colors. As a child, I remember eating tomatoes like apples, sprinkled lightly with salt. Mom would make all kinds of tomato salads on hot summer nights, depending on what was ripe in her garden.

Tomatoes can be the star of the show with just a little salt and pepper, some thinly sliced red onion, and a small amount of red wine vinegar and olive oil, or they can be a part of a bigger story. Just the other night I made a tomato salad with halved cherry tomatoes, three small sliced cucumbers, red onion, and an avocado. I drizzled some fig balsamic glaze on top with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and it was the perfect side dish to the rich steamed lobster with butter.

Nothing beats a classic Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and basil. The kids can even throw that together for themselves. However, as I am always looking for delicious new ways to enjoy the handsome heirloom tomatoes grown in an extreme array of colors, I discovered a new favorite way to feature these showstoppers.

Stacking slices of heirloom tomatoes with avocado and red onion is not only a special and unique presentation, but also an absolutely delicious combination. I have served this salad for family dinners as well as dinner parties, because it is impressive-looking. The dressing will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, so consider doubling it to have on hand.

Stock up on some colorful heirlooms during your next trip to the farmer’s market and see how you stack up.

Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Stacks

Serves 4


⅓ cup low-fat buttermilk

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 T. reduced fat sour cream

1 T. reduced fat mayonnaise

½ t. grated lime zest

¼ t. minced fresh garlic

¼ t. kosher salt

⅛ t. ground cumin

Dash of ground red pepper


4 medium heirloom tomatoes (about 2 pounds), different colors

¼ t. kosher salt

¼ cup red onion, sliced vertically very thinly

1 avocado, small dice

Fresh ground pepper

To prepare dressing, combine first nine ingredients in a small food processor or blender; process 30 seconds or until pureed, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Cover and chill.

To prepare salad, slice each tomato crosswise into four equal slices (about ½-inch thick). Place one tomato slice on each salad plate. Sprinkle slices evenly with ¼ t. salt. Top each serving with a few onion pieces and about 1 tablespoon avocado. Repeat layers three times, ending with avocado. Drizzle 2 tablespoons dressing over each serving. Top with black pepper.

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