At this time of year tomatoes are at their absolute best, so why not take advantage and give this easy tomato salad with mozzarella and basil oil a try. With just a few simple ingredients you can serve up a fresh, fragrant, summer side dish that works perfectly on a barbecue spread, as a topping for meat and fish, or my favourite way, piled high on toasted garlicky ciabatta.
WHICH TOMATOES ARE BEST FOR A SALAD?
Fresh, juicy, ripe tomatoes work best in this recipe. Yes, I’m that person in the supermarket sniffing them (sorry not sorry). It’s the best way to check they’re ripe and ready to go. They should smell like tomatoes if you know what I mean. If they smell of nothing, they’re likely going to lack flavour. Another way to tell if the tomato is ripe is to check it’s firm but gives under slight pressure. It should not be soft.
To a certain extent, you should be including your favourite varieties of tomato because, in my view, that’s what you’ll enjoy the most. For this recipe, I’m using a combination of Red Beefsteak and Vine Tomatoes. And, for that gorgeous display of yellow, orange, green and brown, Isle of Wight Speciality Tomatoes. For me, the salad must look as good as it tastes.
As far as flavour goes, each variety adds something unique to the dish. Some sweet, some more acidic, some mild, some more complex, so best to mix things up. Heirloom, cherry, vine, beefsteak are all easy pickings in the summertime. If you can venture to a farmers market, even better. That’s where you’ll find the freshest ingredients, bar growing them yourself.
INGREDIENTS IN THIS SIMPLE SALAD
This salad must be one of the easiest dishes to prepare, yet the flavours pack a mighty punch. Truly inspired by Italian flavours and guided by their philosophy that simple, high-quality ingredients are king.
With that in mind, this salad comes together with just 6 simple ingredients…
- Fresh Ripe Tomatoes
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Lemon (or Balsamic Vinegar)
Not only are these ingredients delicious, but they come together in just 10 minutes. And, did you notice how healthy they are? Oh, yes. You’re welcome.
Unless you have a nightshade allergy that prevents you from being able to eat tomatoes, then this salad will be good to go for most healthy lifestyles. It’s real food compliant, keto-friendly, gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, low carb and vegan, paleo and whole30 compliant (if you omit the mozzarella). Plus, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a healthy fat. What a beauty.
My absolute favourite herb to eat with tomatoes is basil. You won’t often find me eating raw tomatoes without basil too far behind. The two ingredients pair so wonderfully. So, it seems natural for this tomato salad to have a Basil Oil dressing. And this one is embarrassingly easy to prepare.
All you need to do is bash the basil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil around in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt and pepper until you have a drizzlable (new word!) sauce. And that’s it! No, pestle and mortar? No problem. Take the end of a rolling pin to it in a small, sturdy bowl. I did try using a small blender for this job, but there weren’t enough ingredients to cover the blade, so that was a fail.
The key to this dressing is an excellent quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. No word of a lie, it will make or break the dish. Are you worried about the price? I only ask because I find I often cringe at the cost of a really good quality olive oil. So this is what I do. As I cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil 95% of the time, it’s worth having a more affordable bottle to use on the regular, and save a more expensive, quality bottle for drizzling and dunking. It helps me justify the cost somewhat.
And, staying true to my real food goals, the least processed option would be an organic, unfiltered variety. And a good tip for ya, a dark bottle is best to limit the exposure of the oil to sunlight and oxygen, which can turn the oil rancid before it’s time.
HOW TO MAKE TOMATO SALAD WITH MOZZARELLA AND BASIL OIL
- Chop your tomatoes and arrange on a platter. Add thinly sliced shallots and bite-sized pieces of torn mozzarella.
- Use a pestle and mortar to grind the basil, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper into a tasty dressing and drizzle over the tomato platter.
- Top with sea salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice (balsamic vinegar is also delicious).
- Serve and enjoy!
CAN I MAKE TOMATO SALAD AHEAD OF TIME
Soon after making this salad, the juice of the tomatoes will pool at the bottom of the platter. That too is delicious and is fantastic to dunk bread into, but if that’s not what you’re after, then I’d recommend serving soon after preparation.
If you want to prepare the salad a few days in advance, my recommendation would be to keep the ingredients separate in the fridge and then bring them together before serving. This way, all the ingredients will remain and look as fresh as a daisy.
I’d love to know how your Summertime Salad turns out. Please get in touch in the comments and let me know. I hope it becomes a go-to summer recipe for you too!
And, if you’ve got some leftover tomatoes and basil, I’ve got some tasty light lunch ideas for you. Why not try my Homemade Tomato Soup with Basil or Tomato Bruschetta recipes, where tomato and basil are once again, the real superstars.
TOMATO SALAD RECIPE
Summertime Tomato Salad with Basil Oil
- Chopping Board & Sharp Knife
- Pestle & Mortar
- 800 g (28 oz) Tomatoes Mixed varieties, washed. Slice large tomatoes into 5mm thick slices and cherry tomatoes in half.
- 1 Shallot Finely sliced into rings. I used an Echalion (aka Banana) Shallot
- 60 g (2 oz) Mozzarella Torn into bite-size pieces
- 2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
- ¼ tsp Sea Salt
- ⅛ tsp Black Pepper Freshly ground
- 10 g (0.35 oz) Basil Leaves Rinsed, large stalks removed.
- 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ⅛ tsp Sea Salt
- ⅛ tsp Black Pepper Freshly ground
- Gather and prepare your ingredients.
- Arrange the tomatoes and shallots on a platter. Next, place torn pieces of mozzarella around and about.
- In a pestle and mortar grind the basil, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper until the basil is finely shredded and fragrant. Drizzle the dressing over your tomato platter. Then, from a height season with the remaining salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Serve and enjoy!
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Thank you so much for reading.