This heirloom tomato salad recipe is coming to you just in time to get this fruit at its freshest. It's no secret that produce tastes better when it's in season. To me, no other fruit or vegetable proves this to be true more than the tomato. There are more than 10,000 varieties of tomatoes known to grow around the world, but no other variety tops the heirloom.
Heirloom tomatoes are sweet, juicy and have the most incredible flavor. They come in a number of varieties themselves, including Early Girl, Brandywine and Green Zebra. You can find heirloom tomatoes in many different colors, like yellow, red, green, pink and purple. Some are even a combination of two or three colors!
The color actually does affect the flavor of each tomato, and you will definitely find that a yellow heirloom tastes different than a red or purple variety. And, two red heirloom tomatoes might not even taste the same! The flavors aren't exactly consistent with heirloom tomatoes, but they are always delicious.
Heirloom tomatoes can often be misshapen, but that does not affect their delicious taste! A friend of mine (who grows heirloom tomatoes) once told me that the uglier (less symmetrical) a tomato is, the better it tastes. I still believe this to be true!
Heirloom tomato season is short and typically takes place during the month of August. If you see heirloom tomatoes on sale, stock up! Because their season is so limited, heirloom tomatoes typically come at a heftier price tag than other tomato varieties. But trust me -- the extra cost is so worth it.
If you're a true tomato lover, you might agree that the best way to enjoy a fresh, in-season heirloom tomato is to simply slice it and sprinkle a little salt on top. While that is one of my favorite ways to enjoy an heirloom tomato, I find that this simple heirloom tomato salad recipe is even better. It's totally fool-proof, requires just a few ingredients, and is ready in less than fifteen minutes.
If you're having friends over for dinner in the month of August, I would highly recommend this recipe as an appetizer or side dish (which pairs wonderfully with virtually any type of protein).
This recipe combines heirloom tomatoes with some of their best flavor partners, especially fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil. I used basil picked directly from my herb garden, so it literally was as fresh as it could get.
I believe that when it comes to olive oil, you get what you pay for. Buying the cheapest brand on the shelf usually won't provide the best flavor, so be a little picky. This doesn't mean that you need to reach for the $30 bottle of extra-virgin imported olive oil- just be sure to buy one that's organic and preferably comes in a darker-colored bottle (which protects against light and preserves freshness better).
You can just eat this tomato salad as is, or put it on top of a piece of cooked fish, chicken or steak. My recommendation is to serve it on top of a piece of bread. Good, crusty, chewy, yummy bread.
You definitely need a loaf of bakery-fresh bread to serve as a proper vehicle for this recipe. One that is crusty and chewy is going to stand up to wet ingredients being placed on top and really soak in all of that tomato and olive oil goodness without getting soggy. Plus, this makes it easy to pick up and eat with your hands!
(You can also cut the bread into cubes and place them right into the tomato salad, making it a panzanella salad instead!)
Heirloom Tomato Salad Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
- 3 large heirloom tomatoes
- 1/2 small red onion
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 TSBP aged balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh basil
- 1 loaf crusty bread, cut into slices and grilled or toasted
Cut tomatoes into cubes (about 1-2") and place into a large bowl. Chop red onion into thin, small strips and add to the bowl. In a separate, small bowl, combine the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Whisk for 30 seconds to blend well. Add in salt and pepper and whisk again. Pour the mixture over the tomatoes and stir well. Let sit while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Cut mozzarella into small cubes (about 1/2") and place into the bowl with the tomatoes. Stir to incorporate. Chop up the basil into small ribbons and gently stir into the salad. Divide up tomatoes onto the pieces of sliced bread and serve immediately.