When tomatoes are in season, this Fresh Tomato Salad with Basil Oil Dressing is on the menu! It’s so refreshing during the summer months and incredibly simple to prepare. All you need are juicy tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, a shallot, lemon juice, and some seasoning. It’s the perfect side dish for pretty much any main course.
If you’re looking for even more ways to incorporate tomatoes into your diet this summer, or maybe you’re thinking, “What can I do with my excess tomatoes?” because, like me, you picked up way too many at the farmer’s market this past weekend, you’re in the right place, my friend!
One of our all-time lunch favorites is this Italian-inspired Tomato Bruschetta. And there’s nothing better than a Homemade Chunky Tomato Salsa to bring some fresh flavor to your grilled meats, tacos, nachos, sandwiches, salads, and so much more!
But if it’s something warm and cozy you’re after, this San Marzano Tomato Sauce with Rustic Vegetables really hits the spot. Smother it over crusty sourdough or garlic bread for some serious tomato-fueled satisfaction!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- An opportunity to use up a surplus of tomatoes: If you need to use up a lot of tomatoes, this easy tomato salad is the perfect way to turn that abundance into a delicious and nutritious tomato feast.
- Quick lunch fix: Whip up this healthy side dish in 10 minutes or less!
- A nutritious option: Thanks to their lycopene content and other bioactive compounds, tomatoes may offer diverse health benefits, including anticancer properties, improved cardiovascular health, skin benefits, and enhanced immune response. [Source]
This beautiful summer salad is inspired by Italian flavors. I love their philosophy that simple, high-quality ingredients are king. Here’s what you’re going to need:
SIMPLE TOMATO SALAD INGREDIENTS
- Fresh Ripe Tomatoes: The star of the show! I generally use a mix of tomato varieties based on what’s available. On this occasion, I’ve used grape tomatoes, vine-ripened tomatoes, and regular salad tomatoes. The larger tomatoes are beefsteak. I love that each variety brings its own unique taste – some sweet, some mild, and some more complex. And the variation of red, green, and yellow tomatoes makes me smile. But the freshness of the tomatoes is what’s key here. So, fresh garden tomatoes, if you’re lucky enough to have them, would be absolutely sensational in this recipe! Heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are also fantastic options. Avoid Roma tomatoes because they’re not particularly juicy.
- Fresh Mozzarella Cheese: I like adding something creamy to my salads, and a mozzarella-tomato combo is just divine. I’m using torn mozzarella and bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls). But you could use mozzarella slices like you would in a caprese salad.
- Sea Salt Flakes (or Kosher Salt) and Black Pepper: Seasons the salad and lifts all the flavors.
OLIVE OIL DRESSING INGREDIENTS
- Fresh Basil Leaves: A great tomato salad has to have basil, right? Right! The two ingredients are besties!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: It’s a good idea to have two types of extra virgin olive oil, my favorite of the healthy fats, at the ready. Use a budget-friendly regular olive oil for cooking, and reserve the best oils for recipes where the taste matters most. The latter might cost more, but you’ll only use a little. Its fruity, grassy flavors will take this simple tomato salad recipe to new heights of deliciousness!
- Shallot: The perfect addition for a little onion bite without overpowering the tomatoes.
- Lemon: For its zesty brightness.
Add the basil, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a pestle and mortar, and grind the ingredients until you’ve got a vibrant green dressing. Set aside.
Place the sliced tomatoes and shallots in a bowl. Drizzle with half the dressing. Gently toss to coat. Then, arrange the sliced tomatoes and shallots on a serving platter. Add torn pieces of mozzarella, and finish by drizzling the remaining dressing.
- Pick the Best Tomatoes: There are a few ways to find the freshest tomatoes. Here’s how:
- Look for tomatoes that are free of wrinkles, blemishes, or cracks.
- The tomato should be firm but give under slight pressure. It shouldn’t be soft.
- Respectfully smell the tomato. Yep, I’m “that person” in the supermarket sniffing the tomatoes! A ripe tomato should have a subtle, earthy scent. If it’s too fragrant, it might be overripe. But if there’s no smell, they’ll likely lack in the flavor department.
- Quality Olive Oil: A good quality extra virgin olive oil will greatly improve the taste of the salad. When choosing your olive oil at the grocery store, select one in a dark bottle, as it will shield the oil from excess sunlight, preventing the oil from turning rancid too quickly.
- Serve Immediately: This tomato salad is best prepared and served immediately for the best flavor and texture. This is because 1) The tomatoes will start to release their juices as soon as the seasoning hits them. And 2) Once the basil is crushed/chopped, it will lose its vibrant color and aroma.
- Serve at Room Temperature: For amazing flavor, eat the tomatoes at room temperature so their natural flavors fully blossom.
- Mozzarella: This tomato basil salad is fantastic with or without cheese, so mozzarella is one of those optional ingredients that can be easily omitted. However, if you’d like to switch up the cheese, creamy cheeses like burrata, feta cheese, and goat cheese are great options.
- Basil: Fresh herbs work best in this recipe. Try Thai basil if you like aniseed flavors or a little fresh oregano for its slightly lemony bitter taste. Mint, cilantro (fresh coriander), or dill can also lend a unique twist.
- Shallot: For more raw onion flavor, thinly sliced crisp red onion is an excellent alternative to shallots. These Pickled Red Onions also work particularly well!
- Lemon: A few acids can brighten this salad just as well as lemon. Try red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. Anything balsamic provides the most fantastic flavor, too–balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze, or balsamic reduction are all fab. But go easy; some contain more added sugar than others!
- Cucumber Tomato Salad: Cucumbers bring a cool crispness that pairs well with juicy tomatoes.
- Tomato Arugula Mozzarella Salad: Add a leafy green to your salad for an extra calcium boost, plus pro-vitamin A.
- Protein-Rich Tomato Salad: Turn this salad into a satisfying main dish by adding grilled chicken, shrimp, beans, or chickpeas.
- Tomato Salad with a Crunch: Sprinkle toasted pine nuts, chopped almonds, or Roasted Chili Lime Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds) over the salad for added crunch.
- Vegan Tomato Salad: To make this recipe vegan, omit the mozzarella. You can replace it with creamy vegan cheese or chunks of creamy avocado.
Tomato salads are best enjoyed fresh. Refrigeration will preserve the salad however the texture of the tomatoes may change, and the basil will lose its vibrant color and aroma. But if you do have leftovers and want to save them for the next day, move them to an airtight container and store them in the fridge. A slotted spoon is a good tool to drain excess liquid pooling at the bottom of the bowl/container. If you can, store the dressing separately and add it just before serving. Due to the high water content of tomatoes, freezing is not recommended, as the tomatoes will have a mushy texture when thawed.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s not advised. This tomato salad is best prepared just before serving. Luckily, it takes less than 10 minutes to pull together.
Certainly! While shallots lend a milder flavor, you can substitute with red onions, scallions, or even sweet onions if needed.
I recommend using fresh lemon juice for the best flavor. If bottled is your only option, use it sparingly and adjust to taste. However, consider using balsamic vinegar instead.
Absolutely! Tomato salad is a healthy option that packs a nutritional punch. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins like C and beneficial antioxidants such as lycopene. These antioxidants are linked to various health benefits, including potential protection against chronic diseases. Additionally, tomatoes are low in calories and carbohydrates while rich in water content, making them hydrating and satiating. Remember, while tomato salad is a great choice, balance is important. [Source]
Yes! This salad is perfect for a crowd and is always a winner at summer parties or gatherings. Go to the recipe card and adjust the servings to suit your needs.
Yes, this tomato salad recipe doesn’t include vinegar. Instead, it uses lemon juice to brighten and lift the dish.
100% Yes! Feta cheese is a fantastic creamy alternative to mozzarella. Both are very nutritious, but it’s worth mentioning that mozzarella is lower in calories, fats, and sodium. As with anything, both cheeses should be consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
Yes Indeed! This recipe still tastes fantastic without cheese.
There are so many ways to serve this salad loaded with fresh tomatoes. Here are just some that have been a hit for me:
- With Grilled Meats: Serve alongside grilled chicken, steak, or seafood. The refreshing flavors provide a lovely contrast to the savory char of the meats.
- A Barbecue Spread: Include the salad as a vibrant side dish at barbecue gatherings. It’s brilliant loaded onto burgers, hot dogs, and grilled veggies.
- The Perfect Lunch: Enjoy as a light and flavorful lunch. Or pile it onto crusty bread or enjoy it with a simple quiche or omelet.
- At Picnics: Pack the salad in a portable container and let the summer produce shine. It’s easy to share and pairs well with sandwiches, wraps, and cheese.
- For Brunch: Serve alongside eggs Benedict, frittatas, or breakfast burritos at your next brunch.
- As a Side at Dinner: It’s a versatile sidekick for various main courses, from pasta dishes to roasted vegetables.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Fresh Tomato Salad Recipe with Basil Oil Dressing
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- 4 oz (12 grams) basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt flakes, I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 28 ounces (800 grams) mixed tomatoes, slice large tomatoes into 5mm thick slices and cherry tomatoes in half
- 1 echalion shallot, thinly sliced into rings
- 3 ounces (85 grams) mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
- Prepare: Gather and prepare your ingredients.
- Basil Oil Dressing: Add the basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a pestle and mortar, and grind the ingredients until the basil has been reduced to small pieces. It should be beautifully fragrant. Set aside. If you don't have a pestle and mortar, see notes.
- Tomato Salad: Place the sliced tomatoes and shallots in a large bowl. Drizzle with half the basil oil dressing. Gently toss to coat. Then, arrange the sliced tomatoes and shallots on a serving dish. Place torn pieces of mozzarella around and about, and finish by drizzling over the remaining basil oil dressing.
- To Serve: Best served freshly prepared as a side dish.
Nutrition Information (Per Serving)
Nutrition Disclaimer: Nutritional information is estimated using an online nutrition calculator. For accuracy, we recommend you calculate using the exact ingredients and brands you used.