Grandma Mary’s Tomato Herb Salad


Do brides these days still buy china? I remember when I told my mother I didn’t want china as a wedding gift. She was really annoyed. I explained that I wouldn’t use it often and when I did, I would be so worried I’d break or chip it.

Instead without my knowledge my mother bought me a set of wine glasses, champagne glasses and serving plates, hand-painted in Italy with beautiful fish illustrations. Now that is totally me. And I’m happy she did it, because it is a special keepsake.

I inherited my grandmother’s china, years after my wedding. So, turns out I have it anyway.  Most of the dishware is still in a box in the basement but some is upstairs in my “china cabinet.” I forget it’s there and I’m not particularly keen on the pattern, but it’s my grandmothers so I love it and I will keep it forever. It’s more precious than anything I would have picked out new in Macy’s.

Last week I made a beautiful tomato herb salad and I wanted to instagram it but the red tomatoes didn’t look right plated on a red dish (all my dishware is red, matching my very red / black / white kitchen). Then I thought of using my grandmother’s china which is pure white with a delicate green floral pattern on the edge. It worked nicely and I was happy to use her special dishes.

It got me thinking … she must have been so excited to choose her pattern and own something expensive. I wonder what she was thinking regarding her upcoming wedding too. This happens to me alot – I  wish I could just pick up the phone and ask these questions to my family whom I miss, that have passed away.  At the same time, I’m grateful to have items like grandma’s china around my home as a reminder of them. It keeps their spirit alive.

Here’s the recipe for the deliciously fresh herb tomato salad I mention above. If you love parsley, you’ll enjoy this flavorful melody. I named the salad after my grandmother!

Grandma Mary’s Tomato Herb Salad


2 handfuls roma tomatoes
About 1 tablespoon thinly shaved onions

All to taste:
Basil leaves chopped
Parsley chopped
pecorino romano
Fresh thyme
Freshly ground pepper
Olive Oil

Directions: Half the roma tomatoes, chop the basil and parsley and add to a mixing bowl. Remove the fresh thyme with your hand from the spring, add to the bowl. Thinly shave the onions and add to the mixture. Add Salt and ground pepper and the cheese. Dress the salad with a little fresh lemon juice and olive oil (liberally). Mix and let it sit for at least a half hour before serving. Best served at room temperature. Plate on fine china.


Why do we call  these dishes china? China is in fact a delicate porcelain ceramic. It slowly evolved in China (the country) over 2,000 to 1,200 years ago. There are three main categories based on materials and firing temperatures: hard-paste, soft-paste and bone china. Americans and the English began calling this delicate sought-after pottery  “china”, or “Fine china” as it was first seen in imports from the country. Why is fine china a traditional wedding present? I’ll leave that question for another column

tagged in grandma, recipes