This refreshing heirloom tomato salad combines the season’s finest tomatoes with fresh herbs and basil oil to create a stunning summer salad.
Here we are, at that happy time of year when we’re up to our necks in tomatoes; the beautiful ripe and flavorful kind that is, not the bland mealy specimens we see the rest of the year.
As with most produce, tomatoes taste infinitely better when grown locally and picked when ripe and in season, which is a good thing because that season is now and markets are filled with them. Of all the tomatoes out there right now, heirlooms have to be my favorite. When they‘re at their peak, they hardly need any embellishment at all.
What are Heirloom Tomatoes?
Unlike most supermarket tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes are open pollinated, not hybridized. They aren’t crossbred or grafted with other tomato varieties. To be considered an heirloom or heritage tomato, the seeds must be traceable back at least 50 years, though many varieties are even older (source). They’re lumpy and bumpy and beautifully imperfect. They come in a variety of colors like: red, yellow, orange and green. They’re hefty, meaty and tender, and because of their outstanding flavor they make the best tomato salads.
(Here are a few notes about the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe. As always find the full list of ingredients and directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
If you’ve ever had a Caprese salad you’ll appreciate that less is more when you’re dealing with fresh in-season ingredients and the same applies to this heirloom salad. All you need are some fresh herbs, a fruity extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of flaky salt.
- Heirloom Tomatoes – Choose heirlooms in different shapes and colors. Each variety has its own unique taste and texture so experiment and find your favorites. (The best way to keep them is at room temperature not in the fridge.)
- Cherry Tomatoes – Heirloom varieties of cherry tomatoes are also widely available now but if you can’t get your hands on any then substitute regular cherry tomatoes.
- Basil Oil – Homemade basil oil elevates even the ripest bunch of heirloom tomatoes to a brand new level. This one contains both basil and parsley for maximum fresh flavor and color along with extra-virgin olive oil. The basil and parsley is quickly blanched to set the color then blended with the oil to create a beautifully green oil with loads of fresh flavor that you’ll want to drizzle over anything and everything.
- Sea Salt – A pinch of flaky sea salt is the finishing touch that brings all the flavors together. My favorites are from Camargue or Guerande.
And that’s all you need!
How to Make an Heirloom Tomato Salad:
(Here are the basic steps and some helpful tips on how to make the recipe. Find the full directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
- Make the basil oil by blanching the basil and parsley for 30 seconds in boiling water, then transferring the herbs to an ice-water bath before blending them up with the olive oil in a mini food processor or blender jar. Blanching the herbs before blending them helps set the color and ensures that your oil won’t oxidize and stays vibrant and green. It’s an easy step that literally takes seconds and is well worth the effort.
- Once you have your oil you can use right away or store it in the fridge until needed.
- When you are ready to serve, simple slice up your tomatoes, drizzle them with the basil oil and finish them with a pinch of salt. If you’re feeling fancy chop up some fresh basil and parsley and throw those in as well.
Simple, easy and delicious!
Want to mix things up? Try these variations.
The beauty of a simple tomato salad recipe like this one is that it can serve as a canvas for experimentation. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Try adding a drizzle of red wine vinegar and a finely chopped shallot to the basil oil to create a basil vinaigrette.
- Any variety of olives would be a nice addition.
- Try adding cubes of feta or crumbles of goat cheese.
- Make it a main meal by adding cooked black lentils or a can of rinsed chickpeas.
Once you make a batch of this marinated tomato salad, you won’t want to be without it for long, it’s a summertime staple and the perfect accompaniment to all your meals. So eat your fill while you can, because heirlooms won’t be here for long.
More Tomato Salads:
Experience the deliciousness of heirloom tomatoes with this easy-to-make heirloom tomato salad flavored with homemade basil oil.
- ¾ ounce/21g basil leaves (divided use)
- ½ ounce/14g flat leaf parsley (divided use)
- ¼ cup/60ml extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (divided use)
- 2lbs/906g assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 8 ounces/226g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- Prepare an ice-water bath in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add half the basil and half the parsley to the boiling water ; blanch for 30 seconds, then drain and transfer to the ice-water bath to cool.
- Drain well, and press out the excess moisture.
- Transfer the blanched herbs, oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt to a mini food processor or small blender jar; pulse until smooth with a few small bits of herbs remaining.
- Use right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
- Chop the remaining herbs.
- Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter, drizzle with the basil oil and top with chopped herbs and remaining sea salt.
Add a Tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a finely chopped shallot to the basil oil to create a basil vinaigrette.
Add cubes of feta or crumbles of goat cheese.
Make a main meal by adding cooked black lentils or a can of
Salad is best served immediately but can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Paleo
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 118Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 187mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 2g
Nutritional information for recipes contained on this website, such as calories, fat, carbs, etc. are only estimates and are not guaranteed to be accurate.
Sylvie Shirazi is the recipe developer and food photographer behind Gourmande in the Kitchen. For the last 10 years she's been making eating more healthfully easy and accessible with gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and vegan recipes that are free from processed ingredients.