Heirloom Tomato Salad

By Alexandra Caspero on September 1, 2023

Extra tomatoes? Make this tomato salad! With juicy, ripe heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, and plenty of fresh herbs, it’s a must for summer dinners.

It’s not really summer until you’ve had a tomato salad! For serious tomato lovers, this recipe is a show-stopper. It’s gorgeous, yes, but also fairly effortless to put together, which makes it one of my go-to salads for summer entertaining.

If your garden is overflowing with tomatoes, then this is the tomato salad for you. Ripe tomatoes are a must here, as the show’s star is the tomato. Grab the juiciest tomatoes you can find, especially in peak season during August and September.

With only a handful of ingredients, this is the tomato salad you will reach for again and again. Read below for more details on how to make it, or scroll all the way down to the full recipe card for ingredients and instructions.

Close Up Shot Of Tomatoes For Salad

Why this Tomato Salad Recipe Works

The beauty of this tomato salad lies in its simplicity. It’s a tomato salad that lets the tomatoes shine! For this reason, you want the best tomatoes that you can find.

I’m partial to heirloom tomatoes for the contrasting colors, but any tomatoes will work. Juicy, slicing tomatoes are preferred over paste tomatoes, but they will work in a pinch. However, if you’ve got an abundance of paste tomatoes, then you absolutely need to make my canning salsa recipe or my spaghetti sauce for canning— or both! They are perfect recipes for a bumper crop of tomatoes.

The beauty of this salad is the layering of the herbs– most tomato salad recipes only use basil. While I love the combination of basil and tomatoes together, the flavor often falls flat after a few bites.

Not with this recipe! A combination of mint, dill, and basil really rounds out the salad and pairs well with not only the ripe tomatoes but also the red onion.

If you don’t want to get all of the herbs, then I’d recommend choosing two– the contrasting flavors of the fresh herbs are what makes this recipe a standout. Dried herbs don’t work the same way, and I only recommend fresh for this one.

Heirloom Tomatoes With Herbs In A Bowl

Tomato Salad Ingredients

This recipe couldn’t be easier! Here’s what you need:

  • Juicy tomatoes
  • Sliced red onions
  • Fresh Herbs like mint, dill, and basil
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Garlic
Overhead Shot Of Tomato Salad

Substitution and Ingredient Notes

Fresh herbs are a must here, but you can use other fresh herbs if you’d like. Fresh oregano or parsley would both be great options here. The only one I think is a must is fresh basil, but I’ve made it without when I was out and it’s still great. Choosing at least two herbs is really what makes this recipe a winner.

Red wine vinegar is my acidic choice for the dressing, but many other acids will work. White wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, or even lemon juice will work. I know many tomato salads use balsamic vinegar, but I find that the balsamic vinegar overpowers the delicate tomato paste and prefer to use another acid in this vinaigrette.

You can add in other ingredients as well, depending on what you are serving this with. Diced avocado pairs well with tomatoes as do other stone fruits, like peaches and plums for a sweeter side dish.

For a Mediterranean-inspired salad, you could add in sliced cucumbers, kalamata olives and feta cheese. For that variation, I’d recommend using mint, parsley, basil or oregano as the fresh herb options.

Lastly, I really love fresh ground black pepper on my tomato salad. Feel free to add that if you’d like!

How Do You Make Tomato Salad?

Make the dressing

In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing: salt, olive oil, red wine vinegar and minced garlic. Dressing For Tomato Salad

Stir in the Herbs

Add the herbs and gently toss together.Tomato Salad 9

Add the tomatoes and onions

Tomato Salad In A Bowl With Bread

Gently fold in the tomatoes and onions, taking care not to squish the tomatoes. Let sit for 5 minutes to marinate, then serve and enjoy!

Tips for Success

The contrasting color and size of the tomatoes make for a nice-looking salad. While any fresh tomatoes will work, I like to use both cherry tomatoes and larger sliced tomatoes in this salad.

As this salad is so simple in its preparation, good ingredients are a must. Extra virgin olive oil is needed over mild olive oil, and I don’t recommend using any other type of oil except for olive oil. The grassier the taste, the better, in my opinion! California Ranch, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods all carry good extra virgin olive oils that taste delicious and don’t break the bank.

Heirloom Tomatoes With Dill And Basil

Serving Recommendations

Obviously, this tomato salad is great as a side dish or even as a simple meal, along with some grilled corn or bread for dinner. My mom’s go-to summer meal when I was a child was corn on the cob, good bread, and tomato salad, and to this day, I love the combo!

Pair it with grilled protein of choice, or consider serving it as bruschetta!

To enjoy as a bruschetta, toast your bread of choice first. I like a good sourdough, but french bread also works. For extra garlic flavor, cut a clove of garlic in half, then rub the cut garlic over the warm bread. It will melt into the bread, making almost like a garlic butter. So good!

Then, spoon the tomato salad on top. My husband loves this version and requests it oven when we have plenty of fresh garden tomatoes.

Juicy Tomato Salad With Dressing

Tomato Cucumber Salad Variation

To make this into tomato cucumber salad, add 1 cup of peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced cucumbers. You can keep the peel on if you’d like, but I like the texture of peeling the cucumber first. Then, add in more salt (to taste) and 1-2 tablespoons more of olive oil to help coat.

Caprese Salad Variation

I know many people think that tomato salad automatically means Caprese salad. I’d argue that this tomato salad on its own will blow you away, but if you love the combo of mozzarella and tomatoes, then you can turn this tomato salad into Caprese salad!

To do so, add in your fresh mozzarella cheese of choice. You can use torn fresh mozzarella balls or mini bocconcini balls and keep them either whole or halved. You can either add the cheese right to the tomato salad or slice the mozzarella first, layer it on a serving platter, and then top it with the marinated tomato salad.

This works really well with burrata too– you can either slice the burrata first and place it on a platter or plate and then top with the tomato salad, or put the tomato salad down first and then gently top with the sliced burrata. Either way, it’s delicious and such a nice summer salad.

Tomato Salad With Crusty Bread

Recipe FAQs

What is a tomato salad made of?

There are many different variations of tomato salad, but this one is made with just fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs, olive oil, vinegar and red onion.

What can I do with a lot of cherry tomatoes?

You can make this tomato salad using just cherry tomatoes! That’s a great option for not only a side dish but also for spooning over any grilled protein. I also have a recipe for cherry tomato salsa.

What is the best salad tomato?

Any tomato will work in this recipe, but the key is that it must taste good on it’s own! Bland, watery, flavorless tomatoes will make for a meh tomato salad.

More Fresh Tomato Recipes

More Simple Salad Recipes

If you make this tomato salad recipe, make sure to come back to leave a rating and a comment! Your feedback helps other readers, and seeing you make my recipes makes my day!

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Heirloom Tomatoes With Herbs In A Bowl

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Heirloom Tomatoes With Herbs In A Bowl

Heirloom Tomato Salad

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: salad, summer, side dish, appetizer
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Extra tomatoes? Make this tomato salad! With juicy, ripe heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, and plenty of fresh herbs, it’s a must for summer dinners.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: salad, summer, side dish, appetizer
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: salad, summer, side dish, appetizer
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sliced tomatoes of choice*
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh herbs of choice (highly recommend a mix, like mint, basil, dill)*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt*
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the salt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic cloves. Add in the herbs and toss to combine.
  2. Gently add in the tomatoes and red onions, carefully folding them into the dressing and taking care not to squash or crush the tomatoes. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to marinate.
  3. Taste, adding more salt/herbs as desired. Also nice with plenty of fresh cracked black pepper!

Notes

*The quality really matters here– make sure to use tomatoes that taste good on their own! A mix of herbs really elevates this salad– I prefer at least basil and one other herb, but highly recommend the combo of mint, basil and dill.

Lastly, I recommend adding in 1/2 teaspoon of salt for this amount of tomatoes and then tasting. If you are going to add in black pepper, do so, and then taste again– you may need to add more salt depending on the ripeness of your tomatoes.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Chef, and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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