This fresh Tomato and Onion Salad with creamy balsamic vinaigrette is refreshing, delicious and incredibly easy to make. This summery salad is made with juicy tomatoes, tangy red onions, fresh basil and drizzled with a creamy basil balsamic dressing.
If you have tomato plants in your yard or on your patio, then you know tomato season is the most wonderful time of year! If you’re not growing your own, head to your local farmers market because this is the best way to enjoy those tomatoes using a handful of simple ingredients that are in season right now!
Ripe fresh tomatoes plus a bit of red onion, aromatic basil and a simple tangy dressing becomes a balsamic tomato salad that makes all your summer salad dreams come true.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Tomatoes: Any combination of small cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes or pear tomatoes. Large tomatoes chopped into bite sized pieces would also be delicious.
- Red onion: Substitute green onions, spring onions or shallots.
- Fresh Basil: Fresh herbs add so much flavor to this tomato salad. If you don’t have basil, use fresh oregano, thyme, parsley or cilantro.
- Balsamic Dressing: Balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, date, mustard, garlic, salt and black pepper are blended for a tangy balsamic dressing that brings out the fresh flavor of the tomatoes.
Best Tomatoes for Salads
The best tomatoes for salads are fresh, ripe tomatoes that have been kept at room temperature. If you haven’t planted your own tomatoes, try to buy some from a local farmer’s market, or look for local tomatoes at your favorite grocery store.
- Heirloom tomatoes come in various shades of red, pink, orange and yellow. They’re usually lower in acid and meaty and sweet, making them perfect salad tomatoes.
- Beefsteak tomatoes are deep red in color, meaty and juicy with a rich tomato flavor.
- Plum tomatoes have a great combo of sweet and savory flavors, and are low in moisture, perfect for a tasty salad. Roma tomatoes and San Marzano tomatoes are Italian strains of plum tomatoes…either would be great options.
- Cherry tomatoes are small and sweet and can be found in red, orange and yellow. Sungold is my favorite cherry tomato variety. They’re usually deep yellow in color, a bit firm and mostly sweet with just a hint of tangy.
- Grape tomatoes are sweet and easy to slice in half, usually found in red.
- Pear tomatoes are quite possibly the best tomatoes out there. Sweet and kinda citrusy these small yellow tomatoes are shaped like little pears and are incredibly delicious. Plant some…or seek them out!
- Cocktail tomatoes (also called Campari) are about the size of a golf ball, and my least favorite choice. These are hybrids, usually grown in green houses and available year round…only worth buying in the winter IMHO.
How to make The BEST Fresh Tomato Salad
First, make the balsamic dressing. You’ll need olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and one date. Puree with an immersion blender and set aside. Specific measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Stack fresh basil leaves and then thinly slice. Set aside. Fresh basil packs a big flavor punch that dried basil doesn’t offer.
Peel small red onion and cut in half. Make thin slices and set aside with basil.
Cut tomatoes into similar size pieces. Smaller tomatoes can be cut in half, larger tomatoes will be cubed and it’s fine to use a variety of tomatoes.
Grab a large bowl or platter. Layer the tomatoes, basil, and onions.
Pour on about ¼ cup of the dressing.
Mix well. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper or dressing as desired.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Leftovers can be transformed into delicious sauce. Pour into a small saucepan and heat gently. If you like a chunky sauce, serve as is. Otherwise you can use an immersion blender to puree. Either way, the sauce will taste great spooned over zucchini noodles, roasted eggplant, spread onto some crusty bread slices for a simple simmer appetizer, as a pizza sauce or in my zucchini rollatini recipe.
- If you’re looking for a dairy-free caprese salad recipe, use this fresh tomato salad recipe and instead of fresh mozzarella, add slices of ripe avocado.
- Store any remaining dressing in a small jar in the fridge for a week or freeze for up to three months. The dressing is fabulous on a simple green salad.
- Tomato Basil Pasta Salad: The only thing missing is the pasta…follow the recipe card, add your favorite variety of pasta and an extra drizzle of good quality olive oil.
- Super Easy Tomato Basil Salad: Chop tomatoes, onions and basil as directed. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper, drizzle on some balsamic vinegar and just a bit of olive oil. Toss and enjoy.
- Corn Avocado and Tomato Salad: With the addition of fresh corn (cut off the cob and added in raw), plus creamy avocados, tomato season just got EVEN BETTER!
- Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad: Chop Persian or English cucumbers into thick diagonal slices and toss with the rest of the ingredients. This cucumber tomato salad is crisp and crunchy…yay!
- Bruschetta Salad: Toast up some crusty bread and rip it into pieces. Toss well with the tomato salad and sprinkle with additional basil.
How to Serve and Store Tomato Salad
- Serve at room temperature for the best taste
- Store this fresh tomato salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, but it will taste best enjoyed in the first couple of days.
- Freeze: Nope. Doesn’t work. The fresh ingredients lose their flavor and texture, making this a tasteless pile of mush. Don’t do it! Instead, if you have leftovers, see my tip above on turning this into a delicious sauce.
Did you know commenting and rating recipes is one of the best ways to support your favorite food bloggers? If you made this recipe, please consider a five star rating below and leave a comment. Also, please share your photos on instagram by tagging me @dkhealthcoach and using the hashtag #debraklein
Tomato and Onion Salad
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- ½ small red onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh basil thinly sliced
- ¼ cup Basil Balsamic Dressing
- Prepare the dressing as directed below and set aside.
- If using large tomatoes, chop them into bite sized pieces. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes or sungold pear shaped tomatoes can be halved through the core.
- Stack the basil leaves and slice into julienne strips.
- Thinly slice the red onion.
- Add tomatoes, basil, red onion to a bowl or platter. Pour on ¼ cup of dressing and toss well. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper or dressing as desired. Serve at room temperature.