Italian Tomato Salad Recipe

One of my favorite things about summer is that when everyone gathers for a meal outside around the table. There’s usually pasta, something on the grill, and salad.

Not just any salad, but tomato salad, made with fresh, ripe summer tomatoes. The very best kind of tomatoes.

You can get tomatoes at any time of the year, but nothing, I mean absolutely nothing beats a fresh, ripe tomato picked right off of the vine. The smell of the tomato is so sweet.

This tomato salad recipe comes right from the Mediterranean. I think this was handed down for generations going back to my great-grandparents from Italy.

The Ingredients

The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to ward off disease and improve overall health. Two of the three ingredients that are attributed to good health in the Mediterranean Diet appear in this recipe for tomato salad.

This recipe is about one thing and one thing only – ripe and fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are full of antioxidants and form the basis of so many recipes across Mediterranean cultures, from Italy to Greece.

tomato salad ingredients

What is the best tomato for tomato salad?

I love Roma tomatoes for this salad. They have a nice blend of acidity and they’re not too watery, so the dressing doesn’t get watered down.  

Heirloom tomatoes add a lot of color and flavor to the mix. If you prefer to have a tomato that’s more sweet than acidic, then go for a yellow tomato.

Most types of tomatoes will do. I do stay away from the smaller tomatoes such as cherry and grape tomatoes. You really want to have bigger chunks of tomatoes for this salad.

Olive oil is another key ingredient, with its richness in polyphenols and healthy fats which make eating veggies fun and tasty. 

You may see that for the acid, some recipes call for red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar. I prefer balsamic vinegar because it has a sharpness to the flavor and brings out the flavor of the garlic and tomatoes without overpowering them.

You may be surprised to find Dijon mustard on this list of ingredients. Dijon will give the dressing a little bit of a kick and thicken it up a little.

Here’s your geeky food science tip: mustard acts as an emulsifier. Oil and don’t mix well, if at all. With oil and vinegar, you can get the two to mix, but the molecules will quickly separate. That’s because the fats in olive oil don’t dissolve in water.

Adding mustard to the mix will keep the integrity of the dressing a little longer. Dijon dressing tends to work better for flavor and as an emulsifier.

Brown mustard or whole grain mustard will works, too. The flavor of the mustard will be much more subtle, but that’s OK. If all you have is yellow mustard, it’s best to skip the mustard altogether. It doesn’t work for flavor, color, or as an emulsifier.

italian tomato salad in bowl

Tips and Variations

This recipe for tomato salad is very basic. I like to have the main ingredients stand out. Too many ingredients can overpower some of the flavors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spice it up.

One of the things you can do is add fresh mozzarella balls and make it a classic caprese salad. Add them just before serving the salad. You don’t want to have the mozzarella balls sitting in the fridge marinating with the tomatoes. It will impact the flavor of the salad and discolor the mozzarella.

Some people love to add onions to the salad, either red onion slices or sweet onions.

Personally, I’m not a fan of raw onions, so I leave them out. The onions can be so strong that they overpower the rest of the flavors. You can add a few onion slices to this salad if you want to.

Can you add cucumber with tomato salad? Absolutely! Adding cucumber to your tomato salad is great to do during the summer. The cucumber adds a bit of water content that you might not get in Roma tomatoes.

Cucumbers in tomato salad will give the salad a crunchy texture and a bit of refreshing coolness on a hot summer afternoon or evening.

Tomato Salad Recipe

This tomato salad recipe has a bit of bite. You'll want to keep some fresh bread nearby to soak up the juices.
Prep Time15 minutes
Marinating Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: Tomato Salad
Servings: 4 People
Calories: 164kcal


  • 3 Lbs. Roma Tomatoes
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil
  • 1/2 C Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 5-7 Fresh Basil Leaves


  • Cut the tomatoes into large pieces. Put into a large bowl.
  • Crush and chop the garlic. Set aside
  • Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard. Mix by hand until well blended.
  • Add dried basil, oregano, and garlic. Mix again for about 20 seconds.
  • Pour the dressing over the tomatoes.
  • Cover and set aside or in the refriderator for about 2 hours.
  • Take out of the refridgerator, mix again.
  • Cut the fresh basil leaves. Garnish and serve.

What Makes This Recipe for Tomato Salad Amazing…

There are two things that you have to have to make this tomato salad amazing. First and foremost are the ingredients.

It bears repeating that the tomatoes have to be fresh and ripe. The basil leaves need to be fresh, too.

The best way to enjoy this classic tomato salad is to let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors combine. The tomato juice integrates with the garlic and

If you have it in the fridge and the olive oil gets thick, don’t fret. Let the salad sit at room temperature for a bit and give it a stir.

You want to have some fresh bread nearby to soak up all of that juice.

Try This Tomato Salad Recipe

Are you ready to try this tomato salad recipe? This is a simple recipe to make for a classic tomato salad. It’s perfect for picnics, potlucks, or a nice side dish on a warm day.

Want to know more about the Mediterranean Diet? Check out this wine guide to learn which wine you can have with your tomato salad.


Heather McDaniel is the founder of Invincible Women Fitness Academy, and a nationally certified fitness and nutrition coach. Inspired by her Italian roots and living in Spain, she loves to explore and share the benefits of the Mediterranean Lifestyle. She works with women all over the world, helping them rediscover their strength, health, and confidence.

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