This isn’t your average, plain-Jane summer tomato salad. This kicky tomato olive salad starts with heavy, fragrant tomatoes, layered with thin slices of prosciutto, crushed olives and topped with fresh, citrusy herbs and super crunchy buttered breadcrumbs. The luscious anchovy vinaigrette, ties all the bold, fresh flavors of this heirloom tomato recipe together. Serve this heirloom tomato salad all summer long with grilled chicken, pork, beef or seafood and some crusty bread.
During the summer months, tomatoes are at their peak and I can think of no better way to use them than this easy heirloom tomato salad. The salad (which is a riff on a recipe I found in the Poole’s Diner Cookbook) takes little more effort than assembling and arranging the ingredients on a platter. It takes about half an hour from start to finish, and if you’re like me, you can sip a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc while you do it. This tomato and olive salad recipe needs on heavy, juicy, tomatoes (preferably heirloom) for the base.
Heirloom tomato salad ingredients:
- Heirloom Tomatoes
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- Italian Parsley
- Cerignola or Castelvetrano Olives
- Olive Oil
- Prosciutto or Serrano Ham
- Buttered Breadcrumbs (recipe given)
- Creamy Anchovy Vinaigrette <<< recipe link
Kitchen disaster movie
In the cookbook which inspired this salad, the restauranteurs top their heirloom tomato salad with “crispy quinoa” (sounds good, right?). The quinoa is cooked, soaked in a vinegar forward dressing, dried overnight on a bevy of paper towels and then DEEP FRIED.
I did it. Once. I cannot describe the unmitigated disaster and subsequent hours of cleanup. Over the course of two days (for one batch of quinoa), I went through half a roll of paper towels to dry the soaked grains, which then STUCK TO THE TOWELS, to having HOT OIL overflowing the pot on my GAS STOVE when I tried to scoop up the crispy bits with a mesh strainer. #NotWorthIt
Then I realized what they were trying to achieve with the crispy quinoa. Texture. Adding crunch. A foil against the soft, lushness of the tomatoes and anchovy dressing. There’s easier ways to get crunch, friends. This is my preferred method…
How to make crunchy buttered breadcrumbs (a.k.a. crumb-tons)
Use a few slices of firm, solid bread (sourdough or country style loaf), preferably a day or two old. They sell a sliced sourdough bread (with the blue label) at Trader Joe’s which I use exclusively for breadcrumbs. Frankly, it’s too tough for anything else, but for crunchy toasted crumb-tons, it excels.
- Remove the crusts from the bread.
- Tear it into medium pieces and put them in a mini food processor.
- Add a chunk of butter and pulse several times until the bread is a mixture of long jagged pieces and some finer crumbs.
- Transfer to a baking sheet and bake in a low oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
I’m betting you can see the clear benefit in my method of achieving crunch. Incidentally, these are the same crumb-tons (breadcrumb + croutons = crumb-tons) I use to top many salads. They’re easier to eat than those big, hard square blocks and you get a little crunch in every bite.
Salt & pepper the heirloom tomatoes
To prep the tomatoes for the heirloom salad, slice them into thick rounds and place them on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Then salt and pepper the slices. This might seem like a superfluous step, but it actually does season the fruit as well as draw out some of the moisture. The tomato water collects in the bottom of the pan and you can add the tomato juices to the lemony herb and olive salad.
This lightly dressed herb-olive combination adds a piquant brininess to the overall heirloom tomato recipe. The flavors and textures work in concert with the other ingredients.
For the olives & herbs
- Crush the olives with the flat side of a Chef’s knife or press with a rolling pin. Remove the seeds and tear the olives into craggy chunks. Transfer the olives to a small bowl.
- Tear the parsley and dill into bite sized bits. Slice the chives into 1/2″ pieces and add the herbs to the olives.
- Add the lemon zest and juice to the herbs and drizzle with olive oil.
- Add the juice that’s collected beneath the tomatoes to the herb olive mixture and toss to combine.
I’ve been using this creamy anchovy vinaigrette on WAY MORE than just this salad. It’s luscious and tangy, coating your tongue with punchy flavors. You won’t need a whole recipe of the vinaigrette for this heirloom tomato salad, so store the rest in a glass jar in the refrigerator for future sandwiches, toppings and dips.
Assemble the heirloom tomato olive salad
- Spoon a puddle of anchovy dressing onto a platter.
- Arrange the tomatoes around the dressing and covering most of the dish.
- Rip the cured ham into thin ribbons and scatter over and around the tomato slices.
- Sprinkle the herbs and olives over the tomatoes. Drizzle with any remaining juices.
- Scatter crunchy breadcrumbs over the top of the heirloom tomato salad.
Though it may seem like quite a few steps, the whole recipe can be assembled in about half an hour (including the anchovy vinaigrette) and this heirloom tomato recipe is WAY better than the typical sliced tomatoes with Italian dressing. In fact, when I put this one on the table, the protein automatically moves to the second position because everyone wants a taste of this.
For a bright, fragrant, flavorful heirloom tomato salad, this gorgeous entry can’t be beat. The juicy perfumed heirloom tomatoes with briny olives and lemony herbs make each bite unique. Silky, buttery ribbons of prosciutto echo the briny, salty flavor of the olives and the punchy anchovy dressing is the drumbeat that ties it all together. Oh — and those crunchy breadcrumbs — beyond wonderful. Trust me, you won’t miss that quinoa…
More summer salad recipes you may enjoy:
- Savory Pickled Cherry Cold Rice Salad
- Juicy Peach and Baby Kale Salad with Bacon Dressing
- Grilled Summer Salad with Lime Dressing
- Tomato Peach Caprese
Summer Tomato Salad
FOR THE TOASTED BREADCRUMBS:
- 1 sliced sourdough bread or other sturdy bakery style bread (I like Trader Joe's sourdough bread)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
FOR TOMATO SALAD
- 4 medium heirloom tomatoes or beefsteak or other ripe tomatoes
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley
- 6 chives cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill
- 1/2 cup Cerignola or Castelvetrano olives with pits
- 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 thin slices prosciutto or serrano ham torn into strips and pieces
- 1/3 cup creamy anchovy dressing recipe on this site
- Preheat the oven to 325°.
- Remove the crusts from the bread and tear into large chunks. Place the bread in the bowl of a mini food processor and add the butter. Pulse several times until you have large, irregular bread crumbs. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Stir the breadcrumbs and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until golden and very crispy. Set aside to cool. (
- Arrange a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
FOR THE TOMATOES:
- Slice the tomatoes into 1/2" thick rounds and transfer to the wire rack. Sprinkle the tomatoes evenly with the salt and peppper and set aside for 10-15 minutes. The tomatoes will give up some of their juices and it will collect on the baking sheet for use in the dressing.
FOR THE HERBS:
- Tear the parsley and dill into small bits and transfer them to a medium bowl. Add the chives.
- Place the olives on a cutting board and use the flat side of a Chef's knife or Santoku and press firmly to crush the olives. Remove the pits and discard. Tear the olives into chunks and add them to the parsley mixture.
- Zest the lemon and add it to the parsley mixture. Cut the lemon and squeeze out about 1 1/2 teaspoons of juice and add it to the herb mixture.
- Transfer any juice that has collected from the tomatoes to the bowl of herbs and olives. Add the olive oil and toss gently to coat the ingredients. Set aside.
ASSEMBLE THE SALAD:
- On a platter spoon a puddle of the anchovy dressing. Arrange the sliced tomatoes around the dressing. Tuck the prosciutto or serrano ham in between the tomatoes and drape ribbons of the thinly sliced, cured meat artfully around. Top the tomatoes with the herb and olive mixture. Finish with a handful or two of toasted breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.