These marinated heirloom tomatoes capture the flavor of summer. Garden fresh tomatoes sit in a bright, bold marinade of olive oil, vinegar, fresh garlic, and oregano to create a salad or sandwich topping that looks beautiful and tastes even better!
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Why You'll Love Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes
While I like a grocery store tomato as much as the next guy, I have been enchanted by these big, unruly, and oddly beautiful tomatoes that crop up every tomato season since I was a child. Their colors and flavors truly capture everything that's best about summertime.
My dad started growing heirloom tomatoes in the backyard when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. I was fascinated by their unusual names (Mr. Stripey was a favorite), their bright colors, and odd shapes. He explained to me that this is what many tomatoes used to look like before commercial farming operations cross-bred their tomatoes to achieve a more uniform, red, round product.
Here I create a simple marinade of rich olive oil, zippy red wine vinegar, savory garlic, and vibrant oregano, which mingles with the liquid from the tomatoes to create a truly delicious marinated heirloom tomato salad recipe you'll want to make all summer long.
Now, these marinated, juicy tomatoes can be more than just a simple summer salad, too. One of my favorite ways to use them is in BLT, grilled chicken, or tuna sandwiches. They're great on wraps or added to grain bowls. You can also add them to big, filling salads with homemade croutons and a poached egg!
Finally, this recipe makes it easy to have an elegant contribution to a summer get-together. Grab several varieties of heirloom tomatoes, slice them, marinate them, and your friends and family will surely be impressed.
What You'll Need for Heirloom Tomato Salad
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- Heirloom Tomatoes You can usually find heirloom tomatoes at your local grocery store or at the farmer's market. There are many heirloom varieties to choose from. I like to pick a few of the best-looking tomatoes that are different shapes and colors.
- Garlic Minced fresh garlic is called for here.
- Olive Oil A good quality extra virgin olive oil would be nice here. Since there are so few ingredients, you will be able to taste a higher quality ingredient.
- Red Wine Vinegar If you are out of red wine vinegar, you can use white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar.
- Dried Oregano Fresh oregano will work here as well.
- Salt and Pepper I always recommend using kosher salt when cooking. It is less salty per teaspoon than sea salt or table salt, which makes it easier to taste your food as you go, and harder to oversalt.
- Fresh Basil (Optional) Garnish the tomatoes with a bit of fresh basil for an extra taste of summer.
How to Make Marinated Tomatoes
Step One Create the vinaigrette. Mince the garlic, add it to a small bowl, then add the vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Whisk together the marinade ingredients until they are emulsified (that is, they are completely combined, instead of a layer of oil and a layer of vinegar).
Step Two Slice the tomatoes and layer them in a pie dish or other nonreactive container. You can also place them in a layer in a plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the tomatoes and move them to the fridge.
Step Three Let marinate for 2 to 24 hours, then serve!
Ceramic Pie Dish or Other Nonreactive Container (like a ceramic or glass baking dish)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
An heirloom tomato is a variety of tomatoes that has not been cross-bred with other tomato varieties for at least 40 years. Most store-bought tomatoes are a hybrid of several different tomato varieties. This is done to achieve certain characteristics, such as their red color, their shape, and their size.
You absolutely can! Heirloom tomatoes are prized for their beauty and taste, but regular tomatoes will still make an excellent and refreshing tomato salad.
If you are out of oregano, feel free to swap in different dried herbs like basil, tarragon, thyme, or parsley. You can also use an Italian seasoning blend if it's what you have on hand. These options will be slightly different, but will still pair very well with the tomatoes.
Variations and Substitutions
Balsamic Vinegar If you'd like a sweeter marinated tomato, switch out the red wine vinegar for balsamic vinegar.
Tomato Shape Play with different shapes of tomatoes. You can cut the tomatoes into wedges, chunks, or even slice cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters.
Different Herbs Try topping this salad with your favorite fresh herbs. You can use fresh basil, cilantro, parsley, or other soft herbs.
Shallots You can swap the garlic for shallots if you'd like. This will lend a slightly more sweet flavor to the tomatoes.
Storing Leftover Marinated Tomatoes
Fridge Store tomatoes in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
Freezer I do not recommend freezing marinated tomatoes.
Reheating This dish does not really need to be reheated. If you'd like to remove the chill from the tomatoes, let them sit on the counter until they come to room temperature, and then served.
- Ripe tomatoes are deeply colored, without any remaining green spots (although some heirloom varieties can be yellow or green in color). Ripe tomatoes should come off of the vine easily, if you're harvesting them at home, and be fragrant. They should be firm, with a little give, but not be mushy.
- If the tomatoes at the store don't appear to be that ripe, tomatoes will continue to ripen after you bring them home. Just store them on the counter in a breathable container, such as an open paper bag or plastic bag. This will encourage the release of a chemical called ethylene that causes them to ripen.
- If your tomatoes are already fully ripe, you should still store them on the counter until ready for use. The refrigerator can alter the flavor and texture of a tomato.
How to Serve Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes
This tomato salad is best in hot months when summer tomatoes are at their peak. They can be served simply as a salad, or added to a variety of other dishes. Try some of the suggestions below!
Bread At my house, we love this salad with just a hunk of crusty bread. It's an easy afternoon lunch when it's hot, or a fantastic appetizer when you have company in the summer.
Sandwiches I love to use these tomatoes in place of regular tomatoes in a BLT. Try them on this Chicken BLT Sandwich!
Salads Add marinated tomatoes to a side salad for a pop of flavor!
Snack You can also just serve these tomatoes up as a snack! They're wonderful on their own.
More Salad Recipes to Try
Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes
- Ceramic Pie Dish or Other Nonreactive Container, like a Glass or Ceramic Baking Dish
- Create the vinaigrette. Mince the garlic, add it to a small bowl, then add the vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Whisk together the marinade ingredients until they are emulsified.
- Slice the tomatoes and layer them in the ceramic pie plate, or glass or ceramic baking dish.
- Pour the marinade over the tomatoes. Cover with a lid, plastic wrap, or a wax food wrap, and move them to the fridge.
- Marinate for 2 to 24 hours, then serve.
- This salad is excellent topped with fresh herbs like basil or parsley.
- Serve with a piece of crusty bread, as a salad, or as a topping for sandwiches like BLTS, grilled chicken, or tuna sandwiches. You can also add these tomatoes to grain bowls or wraps.
- Fridge Store tomatoes in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
- Freezer I do not recommend freezing marinated tomatoes.
- Reheating This dish does not really need to be reheated. If you'd like to remove the chill from the tomatoes, let them sit on the counter until they come to room temperature, and then served.