With a handful of simple ingredients, this tomato and onion salad is a vibrant, fresh and flavourful side. It's easy as can be and is the perfect vegan salad for picnics, potlucks or any Summer get-together.
Why This Salad Works
If you love the sweet zing of fresh tomatoes, this is the salad for you. Serve it with cashew ricotta on crusty bread or as a simple side with white pizza. Eat it straight from the bowl, it's that delicious.
This tomato and onion salad is a little bit everything.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Tomatoes. Go crazy! Today, I'm using a mix of small tomatoes but you can use fresh vine ripened, heirloom or cherry. Or a mixture! Around 4-5 vine-ripened tomatoes will get you to your 600g.
Onions. So, here is where a little personal choice comes in. I have made this salad with both red onions and French shallots. The shallot is more delicate and has a slightly sweet, garlicky vibe. The red onion has a more robust in-your-face thing going on. We are not using a tonne, so either works. Use what you have.
Garlic. Just a touch massaged into the tomatoes before the dressing goes on. I am building this salad a little like you would bruschetta.
White wine vinegar. Because we are going for a lighter, fresh feel, we're using white wine vinegar. But if you only have red wine vinegar, use that.
Bon Appetite suggests when choosing a vinegar to think about what kind of wine you'd want to be paired with your dish and choose the vinegar based on that. But if you only have one kind of vinegar on hand, use that.
Pepper. Optional but excellent.
Olive oil. Use as good a quality oil as you can manage. Olive oil has slight fruity taste that goes perfectly with the tomatoes.
Basil. Tomato and basil are made for each other. It's actually science - both basil and tomato contain a volatile compound called Linalool. It's destiny, baby! And chemistry.
Pine nuts. Optional but buttery, crunchy and delicious. For a twist, you could add chopped smoked walnuts. They are so good.
You'll find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Step 1. In a small bowl combine the onions and vinegar. Set them aside so the vinegar has time to take some of the astringent flavour out of the onions. We are soaking them to slightly pickle them and make them less in-your-face.
Step 2. Chop the tomatoes in to different sizes - create texture by cutting halves, quarters and leaving smaller tomatoes whole.
Go ahead and add the tomatoes to a large bowl and gently stir in the garlic.
Step 4. After the onions and vinegar have been doing their thing for around 5 minutes or so, stir them into the tomatoes. Add the olive oil.
Step 5. Season well with the salt and some cracked pepper and add the finely sliced basil. If you are adding pine nuts (which I totally recommend), lightly toast them on a dry pan and add them just before serving.
And that's it! It's so pretty!
Serving Suggestions & Variations
This is a pretty versatile salad. Serve it
Any tomatoes will work with this salad. Heirloom tomatoes will make a spectacular centrepiece but a simple red cherry tomato will work too. Just make sure they're ripe.
You have to hold a tomato to know if it's ripe. Cooking is such a tactile business. Large and small tomatoes should be smooth without any pale spots or deep splits. Smaller tomatoes should be firm but not hard while larger tomatoes should should feel heavy. If in doubt, give it a whiff. If there is no smell, chances are the tomato isn't ready yet.
You can prep your ingredients ahead but don't add the dressing or the basil to the tomatoes until your are ready to serve. The salad will lose its texture if dressed too early and the basil will bruise from the acid. Serve tomatoes at room temperature for the best flavour.
More fresh ideas.
Want more plant-based goodness?
Tomato and Onion Salad Recipe
- 1 tablespoon French shallot or red onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 600 g small or cherry tomatoes or 4 large tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon garlic minced
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt salt flakes if you can
- pepper optional
- 2 tablespoon basil finely sliced
- 3 tablespoon pine nuts optional
- In a small bowl or jar, combine the onions and vinegar. Set them aside so the vinegar has time to take some of the astringent flavour out of the onions. We want the onions in the salad, just not dominating it.
- Meanwhile, chop your tomatoes into different bite size pieces. I generally leave the smaller tomatoes whole and cut the rest into halves and quarters.
- Add the minced garlic to the tomatoes and gently mix it through. Set aside while you finish prepare the other ingredients.
- After around 5 minutes of soaking time, add the vinegar to the tomatoes and toss through. add the olive oil and stir well.
- Season well with the salt and some cracked pepper (if you like) and add the finely sliced basil. If you are adding pine nuts (which I totally recommend), lightly toast them on a dry pan and add them just before serving.