At peak season, tomatoes need little more than a sprinkling of salt. But when you’re feeling something a little more composed, turn to this Simple Tomato Salad. It’s a simple side dish that highlights the sweet flavor of tomatoes with frizzled shallots, garlic and a drizzle of infused oil.
Why This Recipe Works
The most important component of this fresh tomato salad is, not surprisingly, the tomatoes. You need juicy, perfectly ripe tomatoes for this side dish to be a hit. We opt for heirloom tomatoes because first off, they’re prettier. But they also tend to have more firm flesh and less seeds.
The second component is a frizzled shallot topping made with just a handful of simple ingredients. This unfussy topping catapults tomatoes into showstopper territory.
And finally, finish the salad off with three things tomatoes love—flaky sea salt, black pepper and red wine vinegar.
You can use any large variety of tomato for this salad. Like we said earlier, we prefer to heirloom tomatoes because they have more flesh and less seeds. They also add a nice visual contrast in colors. If you’re using regular vine-ripe, Better Boy or Big Beef varieties, scoop out some of the seeds to avoid watering down the salad.
We recommend using brined capers as opposed to salt-cured capers. If you use salt-cured capers you will need to rinse them a few times to remove the salt from their exterior. Brined are easier to use and have a lighter, more floral flavor to them. Be sure to pat them dry very well before using.
Flaky Sea Salt
Flaky sea salt not only seasons, but it adds a bit of crunch too. It’s the perfect finish for any fresh produce, but especially juicy tomatoes. I get mine online, but you can also find it in more major grocery stores.
- You can prep the frizzled shallot and garlic mixture up to 2 days ahead of time. Store the mixture in a glass container with a tight fitting lid at room temperature.
- Once you make this a couple of times, feel free to play around with the spices you add to the shallot topping. Instead of, or in addition to, the red pepper flakes you can add cumin seeds, fennel seeds, or coriander seeds.
- Feel free to use any fresh herb you have on hand. Basil is an obvious pairing, but so is parsley, thyme or rosemary.
- Add thin shreds of Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.
- Add mozzarella pearls or torn chunks of fresh mozzarella.
- Play around with different vinegars—white balsamic, tarragon, or champagne vinegar would all be delicious.
Tomatoes should be stored on your counter at room temperature until you’re ready to use them. Once cut into, tomatoes should be refrigerated.
The topping can be served over creamy soup, spooned over hummus, used as a topping for pan-seared chicken breast or added to a fresh salad.
Use any leftover infused oil to make a homemade vinaigrette or drizzle it over roasted vegetables. It’s also delicious tossed with cooked pasta or rice.
Technically, yes you can. The presentation won’t be the same, but it will turn out just fine!
I will say this ’till the day I die—a refrigerated tomato is a sad tomato. BUT, if you have leftovers of this salad, here’s what I would do. Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The following day, heat a skillet over medium, add a glug of olive oil and cook the leftovers down into a sauce.
While the sauce cooks down, cook some pasta in salted boiling water. Reserve some pasta cooking water. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce then drizzle in the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to reach a silky, saucy texture.
Stir in fresh basil and grated Parmesan right before serving.
More Tomato Salad Recipes to Try
- We love how festive this Cucumber Tomato Salad is!
- This very simple Greek Tomato Salad is perfect for summer.
- Our Tomato Watermelon Salad is absolutely addictive. We could eat it every day.
Simple Tomato Salad with Frizzled Shallot Oil
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced (½ cup)
- 1 tablespoon capers, patted dry
- 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- 1 ½ pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Flaky sea salt
- 3 large basil leaves, chiffonade
- Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium until shimmering. Add garlic and shallot; sauté until just starting to toast, 2 minutes.
- Add capers (be careful adding to hot oil) and continue to cook until garlic, shallots and capers are golden brown, 2–3 minutes. Add pepper flakes and sauté to toast, about 10 seconds. Transfer mixture to a small bowl.
- Arrange tomatoes in a single layer over a large plate or platter. Spoon shallot mixture over top then drizzle infused oil over top. Drizzle vinegar over top then season with flaky sea salt.
- Serve immediately.