The best way to use juicy ripe tomatoes? This flavor-popping marinated balsamic tomato salad with fresh herbs. It’s so good, you might cry.
Ahh, beautiful summery ripe tomatoes. Is there anything better? It doesn’t feel like summer until I’ve had a savory sweet bite of an heirloom tomato from the farmers market or our garden. Alex and I are admittedly tomato obsessed. It’s odd then, that we’d never made a tomato salad quite like this one. It’s all about simplicity: just tomatoes and herbs, marinaded in balsamic and olive oil for 30 minutes. And once you taste it: it’s truly one of the best ways to use ripe tomatoes you’ll find. Alex made it; I took one bite and said WHOA. It almost brought tears to my eyes. That’s just the kind of tomato recipe you need.
Related: Try our Cucumber Tomato Onion Salad
How to make tomato salad
This tomato salad is perfect for serving as a summer side dish, at barbecues and any type of entertaining. It would be fantastic alongside a grilled veggie burger or grilled shrimp. Add a little frozen sangria and orzo salad and you’ve got a delightful patio meal. (Wait, now we want to make that!)
As with any tomato salad, the flavor of this salad is 100% dependent on the tomatoes. Do not, we repeat, do not use anything but ripe, juicy summer tomatoes! The best tomatoes would be farmers market or garden tomatoes. Please do not even think about making this tomato salad with out of season tomatoes. It will taste mealy and sour: and no one likes that. (More on how to tell if a tomato is ripe below.)
Once you’ve located some ripe, juicy tomatoes, this tomato salad is a breeze to whip up. Here’s how to make it (scroll down for the full recipe):
- Cut large, ripe tomatoes into wedges.
- Mix with chopped fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper.
- Let sit for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours) to marinade.
And that’s it! A seriously bomb tomato salad with just a few minutes of prep time.
PS The tomatoes we used here were grown by our dear friends, a husband and wife farmer team here in Indianapolis (Full Hand Farm)! We grabbed them at our local farmer’s market.
Related: 15 Summer Side Dishes You Need
How to tell if a tomato is ripe
There is actually some contention around the right way of how to tell if a tomato is ripe. According to The Washington Post, squeezing tomatoes can actually damage them! To avoid damaging the tomato, especially ones from your local small farmers at the farmers market, do the following to tell if a tomato is ripe:
- Smell it. The tomato should give off a sweet, earthy smell.
- Hold it. Hold it in your hand: a ripe tomato should feel heavy for its size.
Related: 15 Best Fresh Tomato Recipes
How to store tomatoes
Also, let’s talk briefly about how to store tomatoes! Have you heard to never store tomatoes in the refrigerator? This is mostly true. When you get vibrant heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market, you should set them on your counter to fully ripen. However, according to Food52, you can actually store ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator! If they’re fully ripe, it can extend their life a few days.
So if you get some lovely ripe tomatoes from the market and want them to last for a few days, the fridge is the best bet. Just make sure to allow refrigerated tomatoes to come to room temperature before serving. No one likes a cold tomato!
How to serve this tomato salad
I already talked a little about how to serve this tomato salad — and made myself hungry in the process! But if you’re looking for main dish recipes to match, here are a few that would go perfectly:
- Best Veggie Burger (Grillable!)
- Garlic Grilled Shrimp
- Grilled Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini
- Grilled Shrimp Skewers
- Pesto Portobello Mushroom Burger
- Greek Grilled Veggie Skewers
- Greek Grilled Portobello Burger
- Seafood Paella Recipe on an Open Fire
- Broiled Salmon with Bourbon Glaze
More ripe tomato recipes
If you’ve got beautiful ripe tomatoes, you’ll need ways to eat them stat! Here are some of our favorites:
- Mozzarella Tomato Basil Salad
- Best Salsa Recipe
- Greek Salad
- Peach, Tomato & Burrata Caprese Salad
- Stacked Sandwich with Eggplant and Tomato
- Tomato Sage Parmesan Cornbread
- Grilled Cheese with Tomato & Basil
- Burrata Salad with Arugula and Tomatoes
- Heirloom Tomato Salsa Cruda
This tomato salad recipe is…
Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.Print
The best way to use juicy ripe tomatoes? This flavor-popping marinated balsamic tomato salad with fresh herbs. In a word: WOW.
- 4–6 large ripe tomatoes, heirloom or multi-colored if possible
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (such as basil, thyme, oregano)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Slice the tomatoes into wedges, leaving the seeds attached. Cut off any tough parts of the core.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir gently to combine.
- Cover and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours) before serving.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Tomato salad, Balsamic tomatoes, How to tell if a tomato is ripe
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.