Aromatic tomatoes fresh from our garden are amazing in our Italian Tomato Salad. This is an easy salad recipe great for weekday dinners or one that you can scale up or down to suit any occasion.
Our recipe for Italian tomato salad is a lifesaver when it comes to weekday dinners. It uses a handful of basic ingredients and is ready in a matter of minutes.
When I am making this quick salad during the week, I will make it first, pop it in the fridge to allow the gorgeous tomatoes to marinate in the dressing, then crack on with making the rest of dinner.
Come serving time, I take it out of the fridge and give it a good mix; this way, the tomatoes are ice cold and full of marinated flavour.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Tomatoes - we used a selection of tomato varieties that we had growing in our garden - heirloom, Roma and cherry tomatoes. The only criteria here is that they are ripe and aromatic.
- Basil - again we used the basil that we had growing in the garden - holy basil and Genovese basil (this is the one with the large flat leaves).
- Capers - for some added tanginess which you can swap for some green olives if you prefer.
- Oil and Vinegar dressing - a super simple extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing, I will sometimes add a minced anchovy for some added saltiness.
- Your favourite cheese such as Parmesan, feta or gorgonzola.
- Roasted nuts such as pine nuts, almonds, walnuts or macadamias
- Some fruit try some peach or nectarine slices, cherries or avocado
- Crispy croutons or pita bread fried or roasted with some olive oil or garlic
- Grilled prosciutto or bacon
- Your favourite marinated olives or artichokes
- Swap the vinegar with balsamic, champagne or sherry vinegar
How to Make It
The success of this salad will depend on the quality of your ingredients.
- Choose bright red, super ripe and aromatic tomatoes for this salad, as they are the key ingredient you want to choose the best.
- Look for the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can find and afford.
Step 1 - Cut the Tomatoes
Wash, trim and pat all your tomatoes dry.
This is a rustic salad, so feel free to cut your tomatoes any way that you like.
We sliced the Roma’s into rounds.
Then cut the cherry tomatoes in half.
And cut the heirloom tomatoes into bite-sized wedges.
Optional: Sprinkle the tomatoes with some sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, let them stand for 10 minutes to draw out the water, then discard the water left at the bottom. This enhances the sweetness of the tomatoes and draws out the water which intensifies its tomatoey flavour.
Step 2 - Prepare the Remaining Ingredients
Drain and rinse capers, wash the basil, shake to remove excess water, then pat dry.
Strip the basil leaves from the stems and roughly chop.
Grate the ripe tomato and discard the skin.
Step 3 - Assemble the Salad
Add all the prepared ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
Season and mix well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your liking.
Arrange in a salad bowl; you can scatter some extra basil leaves on top to garnish, then keep it chilled in the fridge until ready to serve for a cooling summer salad.
Make it first and allow it to marinate in the fridge for an hour or so to allow the vinaigrette to penetrate the tomatoes for tangy flavour.
RECIPE NOTE: To be honest, I don’t usually measure the oil and vinegar for this salad; I just haphazardly pour a generous amount of each. I mean, who doesn’t love to dunk their bread in gorgeous vinegary tomato juices - simply heaven!
- Italian Tomato Salad with Garlic - add 1-2 cloves of minced garlic and mix through the salad
- Italian Tomato Salad with Burrata - place the burrata in the middle or to one side of a large salad platter and arrange the mixed salad around it or next to it.
- Italian Tomato Salad with Mozzarella - add some sliced mozzarella to the salad or even some baby bocconcini and mix through the salad, like we did in our Tomato Mozzarella Salad.
- Italian Tomato Salad with Onion - add some thinly sliced onion such as a white salad onion, a red onion, a French eschallot or green onion, similar to our Tomato Salad with Fresh Herbs.
- Italian Tomato Salad with Bread - add stale bread cubes or for some added crunch toast the bread before adding to the salad, also known as "Panzanella".
This is a great all-around salad that pairs well with just about every type of meat, poultry, fish or seafood.
You could keep it Italian and serve it with pizza, or pasta, OR serve it at your next barbecue with grilled meats OR alongside your roast, OR with kebabs or koftas.
Try it with:
Common Questions and Tips
What Tomatoes Should I Use?
- We used all the tomato varieties that we had growing in our garden, some firm Roma tomatoes, some oh so sweet cherry tomatoes and a couple of enormous heirloom tomatoes from seeds that a family friend had given us.
- So long as you have a kilo or so of tomatoes, you decide what type of tomato works best for you! Just make sure that they are ripe and aromatic.
Can I Make It Ahead?
- This salad is at its best if you make it at least an hour in advance to allow the tomatoes to soak up the simple yet delicious vinaigrette and penetrate into the tomatoes.
- Or make it several hours in advance and keep it chilled in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
- I do not recommend making it the day before as the tomatoes will go soggy, and the basil will brown.
What Can I Do With the Leftovers?
- Even though it has lost its freshness, this salad can still be eaten a couple of days after you make it.
- You can also blitz any leftover salad, place it into freezer containers and freeze it to use in your next tomato-based recipes, such as a Bolognaise, a homemade passata or a stew.
- The leftovers are also, great diced up and stirred through cooked pasta or risotto with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan and minced garlic or to use in an omelette or frittata.
- This versatile salad suits all eating styles - Dairy-Free; Gluten-Free; Keto; Low Carb; Nut-Free; Paleo; Vegan; Vegetarian; and Whole30.
- Make sure that you check the ingredient list for the vinegar and capers, as you never know when a company might decide to toss in extra additives and preservatives.
- A low-calorie low carb salad with 116 calories and 6 grams of net carbs per serve.
I strongly suggest cutting your tomatoes with either a tomato knife or a serrated edged knife; they slice through the tomatoes without squishing them.
- 1 kg tomatoes (we used Roma, cherry and heirloom tomatoes, approx. 2.2lbs)
- ¼ cup Basil leaves
- 3 tbsps capers
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium tomato (a ripe tomato that has been grated)
- 3 tbsps red wine vinegar
- Pinch dried oregano
- Sea salt and cracked pepper
- Wash, trim and pat all your tomatoes dry.This is a rustic salad so feel free to cut your tomatoes any way that you like. We sliced the Roma’s into rounds, sliced the cherry tomatoes in half and cut the heirloom tomatoes into bite sized wedges.
- Optional: Sprinkle the tomatoes with some sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, let them stand for 10 minutes to draw out the water then discard the water that is left at the bottom.
- Drain and rinse capers, wash basil, shake to remove excess water then pat dry.
- Strip the basil leaves from the stems and roughly chop.
- Grate the ripe tomato, discard skin.
- Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl, season and mix well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your liking.
- Arrange in a salad bowl, you can scatter some extra basil leaves on top and keep it chilled until ready to serve for a cooling summer salad.
- Salting the tomatoes is optional but it does intensify their flavour.