Heirloom Tomato Salad

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: May 14, 2022

This tangy, sweet salad is the quickest, most versatile salad ever. Heirloom tomatoes help create a splendid texture and flavour and the options for other flavours are endless – this salad sits well on many style of feasts and it’s ready in 5 minutes!

Heirloom Tomato Salad

There's nothing more summery and fresh than a fresh Heirloom Tomato Salad. It's my most popular salad - there isn't a week goes by when I don't serve a tomato salad in some shape or form. The reason is simple; it's quick, easy and pairs with just about everything.

Sweet, juicy tomatoes are a perfect pairing with red onion, fresh herbs, sharp vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. They were meant for one another. They enhance each other's flavour to create the perfect harmony. And the great news is that it couldn't be easier to make at home.

Varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes on a black background

What are Heirloom Tomatoes?

It's a term you'll often used to identify many vegetables and fruits, but did you actually know what Heriloom means? Well, it simply denotes a variety which has specific and documented heritage of at least 50 years. Produce from heirloom seeds that have not been modified in any way by modern agriculture. This means what you taste today is exactly how it's always tasted. It also means that this can often mean a more enhanced flavour, texture or colour. There are over 3,000 varieties of heirloom tomatoes to sample - leaving the possibilities endless for this simple, colourful salad.

You can of course make this salad using regular store-bought tomatoes, but heirlooms will give a more elevated result.

Stuff you'll need

For this recipe, you'll need only a few ingredients at your disposal. This is the simplest form of Heirloom Tomato salad that I make at home, but the recipe is super-versatile. I'll give you a few alternative suggestions below on how to change up the ingredients to make all kinds of flavour combinations.

  • Heirloom tomatoes - with over 3,000 varieties to choose from the possibilities are endless, but generally speaking I mix and match colours and sizes depending on what's fresh. I love the huge misshapen varieties in all colours especially the black and yellow colours. I also often thrown in some grape or smaller heirloom varieties if I see them in the store. The short of it is to choose whatever is fresh on the day!
  • Red onion - The sweetness of red onion in particular works well to counter the fruity sweetness of the tomato, I like to slice it finely and toss in vinegar or lemon juice to lightly 'pickle' it for the salad.
  • Oregano - Fresh herbs are essential in the success of this salad and the flavours can be enhanced and changed depending on the herb you use. For today's recipe, I use my favourite - Oregano. A fragrant hit of Italian inspired flavour. There are more suggestions below.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - A best quality EVOO will give the best quality results. I always have a bottle of good quality oil on hand reserved especially for salads and I buy the best quality I can afford (or not afford). You'll taste the difference.
  • White wine vinegar - again, you can use many types of vinegar to enhance and change the flavour profile, but for this recipe I'll keep it simple with regular white wine vinegar.
Heirloom Tomato Salad

Step by Step

This is one of the simplest salads to put together. There really aren't that many steps to follow. Here's how it breaks down.

  1. Cut up the tomatoes.

    I like to cut the tomatoes into irregular pieces but it depends on the variety and size. I tend to not leave any whole tomatoes, so even if I have grape variety, I'll cut them in half. This will ensure the dressing gets into the tomato and enhance the flavour. I'll also often slice the tomatoes into thick, meaty slices.

  2. Chop the onion

    I'll chop finely or thinly slice, depending on my mood!

  3. Mix up the salad

    Combine all the remaining ingredients and stir well. Then either serve immediately or leave in the fridge or at room temperature for an hour to develop in flavour.

Serving variations

This is one of the most versatile salads that can change into many different flavour profiles. This salad works with a myriad of dishes from all around the world. Asian, European, Middle Eastern and so much more. Here are some simple guidelines to show you what works alongside the sweet, juicy tomatoes!

  • Onion varieties - Other than red onion, white onion works well as do spring onion (scallions)
  • Fresh herbs - Try a different herb; some of my personal favourites are basil, tarragon, marjoram, thyme, chives, parsley and dill.
  • Vinegar - Other than white wine, I'll use whatever fancy vinegars I can get my hands on. Try Champagne, Sherry, Verjus, Pomegranate or Rice vinegar or whatever you think sounds good!
  • Oil - If I'm pairing with Chinese, Korean or Japanese food, I'll add a teaspoon of nutty sesame oil to enhance the flavour.

Additional Ingredients to try

  • Cheese - I'll often add a little cheese on top. My favourites are Feta, Goats Cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, Buffalo Mozzarella, Blue Cheese and Spanish Manchego. I'll also pop a burrata cheese on top if I'm feeling extra-fancy.
  • Olives - A few green or black olives are great scattered into the salad
  • Nuts - One of my favourite salad enhancers is nuts. I'll dry fry (or lightly fry in oil) some unsalted nuts like cashews, pistachio, pine nuts or slivered almonds. I chop them roughly and scatter over just before serving.
  • Grapes - For a pop of sugary sweetness, I'll add a few halved grapes - they're pretty splendid!
  • Oil enhancers - Often I'll enhance the oil with some extra flavour like garlic puree, mashed anchovies or lemon juice.

As you can see, this salad offers SO MANY variations. The recipe below is the base recipe that's open to your own creativity and taste, but fear not, the existing recipe is delicious in all its simple delight.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Ready to get started?

With no cooking necessary, my heirloom tomato salad is ready in 5 minutes! And I'm sure you'll fall in love with the tangy, sweet flavours. A perfect side dish for any table and any time of the year. When Heirloom tomatoes are in season wherever you are, be sure to grab a few and create this wonderful, versatile salad.

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about my Heirloom Tomato Salad recipe or just about Heirloom tomatoes? Let me know in the comments below.

What's so special about Heirloom Tomatoes?

Heritage! Heirloom tomatoes are pure bred varieties that have at least 50 years of heritage. They have specific qualities of flavour, size, colour and texture that can be replicated at home by saving the seeds and planting yourself.

What are Heirloom Tomatoes best for?

Salads. Because they have an enhanced flavour, colour or texture, they really work best in raw form in salads.

Why are heirloom tomatoes expensive?

They are pricier than regular tomatoes because they are not mass-produced. Artisan growers produce less and must therefore pass on some of that cost to the consumer.

Is a beefsteak tomato heirloom?

Yes! It is a large, red cultivar. Great for slicing thickly and adding to salads and sandwiches and indeed for using in this salad!

How long will heirloom stay fresh?

Heirloom tend to have a limited shelf life, so it's best to eat them as soon as you can. Don't buy super-soft heirloom as they can turn quite mushy. Leave them out of the fridge too as this can sometimes make them grainy.


Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Rate this recipe

5 from 1 vote
Print Recipe Pin Recipe Save Recipe
Recipe by Lee
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 141

Video Recipe



  • Cut and arrange the tomatoes and add to a bowl. Add the onion, oregano, salt and pepper and then pour over the oil and vinegar. Stir gently and then cover and leave for an hour or so to marinade.
  • Decant to a serving platter and serve cold or at room temperature.


Heirloom tomato salad is a versatile dish to make at home. There are so many variations to try where you can mix and match flavours for infinite results.
  • Onion varieties - Try white onion, spring onion (scallions) or Shallots.
  • Fresh herbs - Experiment with YOUR favourite herb. I'll often use tarragon, basil, chives, marjoram, thyme, parsley and dill.
  • Vinegar - I use whatever vinegars I have at home. Recent favourites included Champagne, sherry, verjus, pomegranate and rice vinegar.
  • Oil - For Chinese, Korean or Japanese pairings, I'll add a teaspoon of sesame oil.

Extra ingredients

  • Cheese - My favourites are Feta, Goats Cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, Buffalo Mozzarella or Burrata, Blue Cheese and Spanish Manchego.
  • Olives - A few green or black olives are great scattered into the salad. Capers also work well.
  • Nuts - One of my favourite salad enhancers is nuts. I'll dry fry (or lightly fry in oil) some unsalted nuts like cashews, pistachio, pine nuts or slivered almonds. I chop them roughly and scatter over just before serving. Try sunflower seeds too.
  • Oil enhancers - Often I'll flavour my oil with something extra like garlic puree, mashed anchovies or lemon juice.


Calories: 141kcal (7%) | Carbohydrates: 4g (1%) | Protein: 1g (2%) | Fat: 14g (22%) | Saturated Fat: 2g (13%) | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 237mg (7%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 3g (3%) | Vitamin A: 833IU (17%) | Vitamin C: 15mg (18%) | Calcium: 10mg (1%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)
Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @CookEatWorld or tag #cookeatworld!