Italian Tomato Salad
Choosing the Tomatoes
What’s special about heirloom tomatoes?
- Heirlooms are grown from seeds passed down from generation to generation and are at least 50 years old. They are always open pollinated meaning they rely on the wind and insects to naturally pollinate them.
- Non-GMO and grown on a small scale heirlooms produce way better flavor than commercially grown hybrids, therefore being ideal for use in classic dishes like this salad. Usually irregular in shape, size and color, the seeds have been saved by growers from what they considered be the best plants then passed down to the next generation.
About the Onion
Making Italian Tomato Salad Dressing
- Keep it simple – Classic red wine vinegar and a drizzle of good cold pressed extra virgin olive oil is all that’s needed here. Remember, it’s about the perfection of tomatoes and all those juices will be a major component of the dressing.
- Make it oil-free – Replace the olive oil in the recipe with a juicy heirloom tomato blended until smooth with the vinegar and a couple of fresh basil leaves.
- Variation – The classic vinegar used in Italian tomato salads is always red wine vinegar. Of course you can get creative and experiment with white wine, apple cider vinegar and even balsamic.
Salad Maceration Period
Allowing the tomato salad to sit for a few minutes and macerate in the dressing really brings out the individual flavors of its ingredients. This is an important step!
About the Salt
Normally I do not encourage the consumption of salt at all. However when making tomato salad a little pinch of Flour de Sel flakes or a little coarse pink salt takes it to perfection by bringing out the natural tomato juices. The Italian word “Insalata” itself means Salted!
Add Ins Ideas
- yellow peaces + peach balsamic vinegar <—seriously Divine!
- vegan feta, mozzarella or ricotta
- black olives
- toasted pine nuts + chive pesto
- steamed green beans
- crunchy cornmeal croutons
- basil pesto or pomegranate drizzle
- stale bread or garlic bruschetta to make it a Tuscan Panzanella or Pugliese Cialledda.
How to Make Italian Tomato Salad
Italian Tomato Onion Salad
- Using a very sharp knife slice the tomatoes into small wedges and add them to a serving bowl with the capers.
- Slice the purple onion into thin strips or rounds and sprinkle on top of the tomatoes. Add the fresh oregano, dill, chives and basil.
- Drizzle the salad with the olive oil and red wine vinegar.
- Season with the Fleur the Sel sea salt and gently toss to coat. Allow to macerate at room temperature for 5minutes.
- Garnish with the chive blossoms and serve promptly with a few extra flakes of Fleur de Sel on top to your taste.
- OPTIONAL: Add vegan feta cheese on top if you desire, I love the one from Follow Your Heart or you can make your own.
Make the Oil-Free Dressing:
- Peel the tomato and blend together with the vinegar until smooth. Add a little water if you need to stretch it out then season to taste with sea salt.