This Heirloom Tomato Salad is summer in a bowl with sweet, meaty late summer heirloom tomatoes paired with crisp green onions and a light champagne vinaigrette.
I spent my childhood absolutely hating tomatoes and everything about them. Whenever they snuck their way onto my plate, I would surely move them one by one onto my mom’s plate whenever she wasn’t looking.
I look back now on all those missed tomato opportunities and just have to shake my head.
There’s truly nothing more spectacular than a late summer heirloom tomato. They are just sweet and full and bursting with flavor. A good tomato feels heavy for its size in your hands, and you could just bite it like an apple.
The best tomato recipes are simple and make the tomato the star. A tomato sandwich made with white bread, sliced tomato, mayonnaise and salt and pepper is a five-star dish when made with a good quality tomato.
This heirloom tomato salad recipe is no exception. Taking full advantage of the tomatoes starting to show up at the farmers market the last few weeks this salad is 90% tomatoes and makes no apologies for it.
Technically the recipe can feed 6 as a side dish, but I dare you not to eat more than your share when faced with this gorgeous salad.
Other Tomato Recipes You'll Love
- Tomato Vinaigrette
- Cherry Tomato Pasta
- Bruschetta "Grilled" Chicken
What is an heirloom tomato, anyway?
An heirloom tomato is heirloom because of its seeds. The seeds are harvested by farmers and passed down season by season to produce the best fruit – the tomatoes that have the most desirable tomato traits – juiciness, color, size, shape, etc.
Your typical grocery store hothouse tomato has been bred to be sold en masse, bred for easier transportation, and bred to look like an emoji tomato. Bright red, perfectly round, with that little green crown on top. And they may all look the same, but they all taste pretty much the same too: that is to say, like not much.
However, you have to be careful because even the tomatoes that are marketed as heirloom in the grocery store could be coming from big growers that aren’t actually interested in making the best tomatoes – just the best profit.
I recommend buying your tomatoes from a farmer’s market if that’s something that’s available to you. Talking to local growers is about the best guarantee you can have that you’re getting good quality tomatoes that have come to you from the shortest distance away possible.
Because you want to make sure you’re getting the best flavor, heirloom tomatoes are best eaten raw. They’re perfect for a tomato sandwich, a big lunchmeat hoagie, a pasta with a raw tomato sauce, or my personal fave - pan con tomate, which is basically just toast rubbed with garlic and then covered in grated raw tomato. Mmm, chef’s kiss!
- Heirloom tomatoes
- Heirloom cherry tomatoes (if you can find them, regular cherry tomatoes if you can’t)
- Green Onion
- Champagne Vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Tips and Tricks
Choose the best tomatoes you can – if buying at the farmers market, ask the person working the booth to help you pick the best tomatoes. If you’re buying at the store, look for tomatoes that are heavy for their size, with limited blemishes or darks spots.
The tomato should be firm, but have a little bit of give to them, and they should smell sweet and tomato-ey near the stem.
The recipe calls for champagne vinegar which can be hard to find, especially in regular grocery stores. You can either order some on Amazon or other online specialty food stores, or you can use a high quality white wine vinegar in its place.
I call for green onions in this recipe because I think they’re amazing with tomatoes, but you can substitute any fresh herbs you like. Basil is classic. Parsley would work here. Chives would be great. A combination of all of them would be awesome.
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Heirloom Tomato Salad
- 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar can use white wine vinegar instead
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 small shallot diced fine
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pt cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 large heirloom tomatoes 1 sliced and 1 cut into wedges
- 1 Green onion dark part only, sliced
- In a small bowl stir together shallot, honey and champagne vinegar and then slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture comes together.
- Toss the halved cherry tomatoes in a ¼ cup of the dressing.
- Arrange the sliced and wedged tomatoes on a platter, then top with the cherry tomatoes. Top with the sliced green onions, and serve with the remaining dressing on the side.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.