Italian Tomato Salad

by Erin @ Food Doodles on June 22, 2020

This Italian tomato salad calls for just a few ingredients, is super quick and easy to throw together and is the perfect summer side dish. It’s also naturally vegan, paleo and whole30. 

I live in Munich, which is just a 2 1/2 hour drive north of Italy. There are a lot of expats and immigrants here and with them, they bring their delicious recipes.

This insalata di pomodoro was one of the delicious dishes I got to try from some Italian friends.

I should say that I added black pepper. It just seemed like the right thing to do, even though it’s not traditional – especially not in salads like this one. That was totally an American (or rather, maybe just non-Italian) move to make.

italian tomato saladOne reason for the lack of pepper in Italian cooking could be that Italian olive oils are spicier than what we typically buy at the grocery store. I know you’re supposed to buy the best quality ingredients for Italian cooking but… I have to admit that I used olive oil from Aldi or Lidl in this salad.

And in everything else. At least it’s organic? 😉

Like I said at the beginning, this is a really quick salad to put together. Using cherry tomatoes is the quickest and least messy way to go.

Beefsteak and oxheart tomatoes are also great options. It just takes longer to cut them up.

italian tomato salad
Some Italian tomato salad recipes call for slicing the tomatoes rather than chopping them into chunks but we prefer the chunky version. The tomatoes seem to better macerate that way. 

Plus I prefer not using a knife when eating salad. It’s more picnic-friendly this way. And yes, some of those tomato halves in the photos are a bit on the large side. Next time, I’d halve those, too.

Whatever type of tomato you use, make sure they’re really tasty. You can get by using less-than-great tomatoes in some recipes like this Simple Tomato Soup Recipe or Cheesy Tomato Soup.

But in a recipe like this Italian tomato salad, in which the tomatoes are raw and there are so few ingredients, you’ll want to use really delicious tomatoes.

If you try out this salad, I’d love to hear what you think about it!

italian tomato salad

Questions about this Italian tomato salad?

Is there a sub for the fresh basil?

I’ve only made this tomato salad with fresh basil. I bet you could try with some other fresh herbs but without trying it, I can’t really say for sure.

I don’t recommend using dried basil. I find that dried basil tastes WAY different than fresh. More than any other herb. Go with fresh in this tomato salad! 

Leftovers can be used in this delicious 1 Pot Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Whole Wheat Pasta or Lentil Bruschetta.

Do I have to use balsamic vinegar / red wine vinegar?

It’s what gives the salad most of its taste, so I’m going to have to say yes!

White wine vinegar would probably also work.

But you should really buy a bottle of balsamic vinegar to have on hand, anyway, for when you crave something like this Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Parmesan Cheese. 😉

Italian Tomato Salad

Can I use a different type of tomato?

I think cherry tomatoes are easiest but you can use whatever type of tomato you’d like. Beefsteak and oxheart are recommended.

When I make this with non-cherry tomatoes, it’s a bit more watery as the seeds and water kind of just spill out. But it’s still delicious!

Can I make this salad ahead of time?

Like the Polish Cucumber Salad I posted two weeks ago, you don’t want to make this salad too far in advance. You don’t want the tomatoes sitting too long in the dressing or it’ll get really soggy. The salt draws out the water from the tomatoes. 

So if you want to make it in advance, you can cut and chill the tomatoes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid. Combine the other ingredients in a small bowl, glass, whatever and then pour that over the tomatoes about 20-30 minutes before serving.

You don’t want the salad to be too cold because then you can’t taste all the flavors properly.

By the way, if you’re interested in why you shouldn’t refrigerate tomatoes in general, this is an interesting article. It explains that once a tomato gets cold, it tells itself to stop producing aroma compounds.

Italian Tomato Salad
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
Course: Salad
Servings: 4
  • 6 basil leaves, chopped (I added a little extra on top, as garnish)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups (520 grams) halved cherry tomatoes or the same amount of another type of tomato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  1. Mix everything but the tomatoes together in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and stir to coat them in the liquid.
  2. Chill for 20 minutes before serving. Don't chill too long or the flavors will be muted.
  3. If you want to prepare this salad in advance, prepare the tomatoes and refrigerate them in a covered bowl. Prepare the dressing in a different bowl and set that aside. Combine 20-30 minutes before serving.

Italian Tomato Salad

Leave a Comment

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennifer Y Fisher June 29, 2020 at 14:25

It’s such a beautiful salad! I’m growing little tomatoes this year on the patio . . . plants are still too young to yeild fruit yet but I’m hoping for a bumper crop (haha, even just a handful) and will definitely put this recipe on the must make list.


2 Stacey L Crawford June 26, 2020 at 19:13

My neighbor just brought me a big bag of Roma tomatoes from her garden. This is a perfect way to use them before they go bad since I already have enough tomato sauce. Thanks for the recipe.


3 Donny June 25, 2020 at 18:27

This is the perfect way to show off tomatoes when they’re in season. As an Italian, thank you!


4 Kelly June 25, 2020 at 06:55

This salad is the perfect way to enjoy summer tomatoes! So delicious and easy to make!


5 Kathryn Donangelo June 24, 2020 at 16:48

I am always looking for new ways to use up my tomatoes. This looks incredible and can’t wait to try the recipe!


6 Jean Choi June 22, 2020 at 16:20

This is so wonderfully refreshing and delicious. It’s a new summer staple at our house!


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