Quick and Easy Italian Tomato Salad (Insalata di Pomodori) is a great starter and an easy side dish. Light and refreshing, it's made with tomatoes, sweet onions, oregano, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. A great side dish or a meal served with your favorite mixed greens or juicy fresh mozzarella.
This salad is Paleo, Whole30, gluten free, grain free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, and totally sugar free.
This Italian tomato salad recipe is a refreshing side dish. Serve with this crusty no-knead Italian bread to soak up all the flavorful olive oil with the salt and oregano. You can also use this simple salad recipe as a base to create other recipes. Make it a meal served with mixed greens or some juicy mozzarella di bufala.
From pizza to pasta, tomatoes are truly the heart of Italian cuisine. They also star in this insalata di pomodoro (which in Italian simply means tomato salad).
This is actually a Sicilian tomato salad. If you ask my Calabrian mother-in-law, she'll say it's a Calabrian tomato salad. Honestly, they make this sort of tomato salad all over Italy. But, I have been eating this salad in Sicily since I was a kid. So I'm sticking with it being a Sicilian tomato salad.
When I was growing up, my dad was growing tomatoes with seeds from Sicily right in our backyard. So my mom would make this salad all summer long with dad's tomatoes fresh off the vine.
It's going to be my first recipe of the year that I share for my #projectsicilia. That's a little project where I share Sicilian recipes my dad used to make or that remind me of him. In Sicilian this tomato salad is called: pumaroru ca cipudda.
This simple salad is great the next day. Or another option is to cook it down and make a quick sauce to serve with vegetables, pasta, or with eggs.
Learning how to make tomato and onion salad is truly so easy. The most important thing is to find the best quality tomatoes. Also super important, you have to use a very good quality olive oil. This will all make the end result even more delicious!
This simple and healthy side dish really allows the flavors of the tomatoes to shine through...plus it looks so pretty!
What ingredients are in an Italian tomato salad?
As with any simple Italian recipe, what's important is to use the best ingredients. The most important ingredient here is (besides the tomatoes), is the olive oil. Here is all you need to make this simple and delicious salad:
- extra-virgin olive oil
- dried oregano
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper (optional)
- fresh basil (optional)
How to make Sicilian tomato onion salad?
This very easy to make salad is so fresh and flavorful. Since it is best to not have refrigerated tomatoes, try to prep this right before you're ready to enjoy it.
First step is gather the ingredients and start to prep the tomatoes.
Rinse, cut, and core the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into wedges. You could leave the seeds, or remove some of them if you prefer. Add the tomatoes to your serving bowl or platter.
Next, get the onion prepped by slicing it in half lengthwise from top to bottom and peel off the skin. Use a sharp knife to slice into thin slices and add to the bowl or platter with the tomatoes.
Lastly, drizzle on the extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle on some sea salt and oregano. If using fresh basil, add on some strips. Gently toss to combine. If the tomatoes are very ripe, take care not to break them up as you combine together.
It truly takes minutes to put together, and is simply delicious!
How to cut tomatoes for salad
- You have to use a sharp knife. Serrated would be great! Slice the tomato in half through the core. Cut out the small core from each half.
- Cut the tomatoes into into 3/4 inch wedges. No need to toss out the seeds and flesh around the seeds. It does add extra flavor to this simple salad.
Yes, cherry tomatoes work fine in this recipe. If you find the rainbow cherry tomatoes, use those.
Yes, tomato salads are a nice side dish in the winter time.
Yes, you can make a tomato salad in advance. For salads with simple ingredients like tomatoes and lettuce, you can assemble the entire salad up to a day or two before serving. If using dressings or other perishable ingredients, these should be added just before serving.
Yes, this tomato salad is naturally gluten-free. As long as you don't add any sort of croutons, it's gluten-free.
Tips to make the best insalata di pomodori
- You can find tomatoes all year round. But the best time of the year to make this salad is in the summer when local tomatoes are at their peak ripeness. Vine ripened tomatoes will have a better flavor.
- When selecting tomatoes, touch them and make sure their blemish-free, firm, and that there aren't any mushy spots.
- Keep the tomatoes on the counter, away from direct sunlight. IF your kitchen is too hot, you'll have to store them in the refrigerator after the first day.
- I like to use heirloom tomatoes. If you can find nice ripe ones, go ahead and use them.
- Keep the juices that the are extracted from the tomatoes. It adds more flavor to the salad.
Variations for this salad
- Onion – My onion of choice is red onion and slicing it sort of thin. Shallots would be lovely or if you're in Italy, the Tropea red onions (wow! super amazing!). In the States, any sweet or Vidalia onions would be perfect.
- Garlic - If you're a garlic fan, go ahead and grate on some garlic.
- Fresh herbs: Try different types of herbs. You could use a combination of different fresh herbs.
- Olives - Add in some black or green olives.
- Cucumbers - If you have any cucumbers on hand, go ahead and add some slices or chunks to the salad.
- Make ahead – You could make this salad the night before. I would wait to toss with the oil until the moment you're ready to serve (20 minutes before would be best). Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge to enjoy the next day. After 2 days, it won't be the same consistency. It gets mushy.
- Maceration – Best with a tomato or antipasto pasta salad to macerate for about 20 minutes. It gives all the flavors enough time to magically meld together.
- Serving suggestions – to keep it vegan, you could serve with our instant pot mashed potatoes, easy Ligurian focaccia bread with rosemary, or rosemary grissini.
The best tomato varieties to use for a salad
There are different tomato varieties and best idea is to choose what you find in season.
- Campari tomatoes: are known to be juicy, high in natural sweetness, and low in acid. You'll find them most likely sold on the vine in a container in markets. I like to get them as they're always consistent in flavor and texture. Perfect for any sort of salad.
- Heirloom tomatoes: come in different colors and are made with seeds passed down between gardeners for generations. They are typically very juicy and sweet.
- Beefsteak tomatoes: are also flavorful yet mild, juicy, and sweet. They're also great for slicing to add to sandwiches.
- Plum tomatoes: also known as Roma or paste tomatoes. They are smaller than beefsteak tomatoes and have a lower water content. Usually better for sauces, but you could use them in a salad, as long as they're ripe and not mushy or blemished.
- Cherry tomatoes: are ideal for a salad. Small and packed with flavor. They're always very sweet.
How to store a tomato salad?
Store the tomato salad in an airtight container (or jar)in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. It will get mushy the longer you store it. Best eaten the first two days. This tomato salad does not freeze well.
Some other tomato recipes to enjoy:
- Cherry Tomato Confit
- Tomato Gratin-Pomodori Gratinati
- Sheet Pan Eggplant and Tomato Bake
- Panzanella-Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad
Did you make this? Please RATE THE RECIPE below:)
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Quick and Easy Italian Tomato Salad
- 3 -4 large ripe tomatoes
- 1 medium sweet onion depending on how much onion you like (Vidallia is my favorite)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 -6 leaves fresh basil chopped to garnish (depending on how much basil you like)
- Clean, core, and cut the tomatoes into about eight wedges. Add the tomatoes to your bowl or serving plate.
- Next, slice the onion in half lengthwise from top to bottom. Peel the skin of the onion and use a sharp knife to slice into thin strips. Add to the tomatoes.
- Sprinkle on the salt, dried oregano, and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle on the extra-virgin olive oil. Toss gently to combine. If using fresh basil, add on some slivers.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.
Such an easy salad, thank you so much for the recipe my boyfriend and I loved it!