Tomato Salad Recipe – Dinner at the Zoo


This tomato salad recipe is ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese and red onions, all tossed together in a zesty garlic and herb dressing. A classic summer salad that never goes out of style!

When it’s warm outside, I turn to cooling salads like watermelon salad, creamy cucumber salad, and this refreshing tomato salad. This salad makes the perfect side dish or light main course for entertaining.

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Tomato salad with fresh mozzarella cheese, red onion and basil.

As we head into the warmer months, one thing I’m excited about is summer produce. In the summer there are so many great options from melons to berries to corn, and of course, tomatoes. This tomato salad showcases the finest that summer has to offer. It’s a bright and refreshing salad that pairs perfectly with grilled meats and fish.

How do you make tomato salad?

This recipe starts with the ripest tomatoes you can find. Of course, if you can grow your own tomatoes they’ll have the best flavor, but the farmer’s market is also a great place to look. The tomatoes are cut into bite sized pieces then mixed with fresh mozzarella balls, thinly sliced red onion and whole basil leaves. A red wine vinaigrette goes over the top, then everything gets tossed together. You can serve your salad immediately, or let the tomatoes marinate in the dressing in the fridge for up to 2 hours.

Sliced tomatoes, mozzarella balls, basil and red onion in a bowl.

Tips for tomato salad

  • I use bocconcini mozzarella balls for this salad. These little cheese bites come packed in water in tubs in the deli area. You can also use diced fresh mozzarella if you prefer.
  • I like to keep my basil leaves whole so that they don’t turn black in the salad. If you’d like to chop your basil that’s fine too, just be aware that cut basil leaves will discolor as they sit in the salad.
  • I use a mandoline to shave my red onion into the thinnest possible slices.
  • I recommend serving this salad soon after it’s prepared, as the tomatoes can get mealy in texture if they sit in the fridge.

Dressing being poured over basil, tomatoes and mozzarella.

Which tomato is best for salad?

This salad can be made with almost any type of tomato. You can use a variety of heirloom tomatoes for a super colorful end result, or even cherry tomatoes for a different look and flavor. In this particular case, I’ve used small vine ripened tomatoes that have been cut into quarters. I prefer to use tomatoes that don’t contain a lot of seeds, such as Roma tomatoes.

A bowl of tomato basil salad with fresh mozzarella.

Tomato salad variations

You can add so many different ingredients to this salad to make it your own and customize the flavors.

  • Vegetables: You can try adding bell peppers, sliced olives, marinated artichokes, corn or avocado.
  • Protein: Make this a main course by adding cooked shrimp, chicken, bacon, white beans or chickpeas.
  • Herbs: Swap out the basil for green onions, dill or parsley.
  • Cheese: Use cubed provolone cheese or shaved parmesan in lieu of mozzarella.

A serving spoon holding a portion of fresh tomato salad.

I make this salad multiple times a week when tomatoes are in season. It takes just minutes to put together, and the flavors are a classic combination that can’t be beat.

More summer salad recipes

Tomato Salad

This tomato salad recipe is ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese and red onions, all tossed together in a zesty garlic and herb dressing. A classic summer salad that never goes out of style!


  • 5 cups tomatoes cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup bocconcini mozzarella balls
  • 1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup small basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Place the tomatoes, mozzarella balls, red onion and basil in a large bowl.

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

  • Pour the dressing over the tomato mixture and gently toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.


Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 18mg | Potassium: 304mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 20.7% | Vitamin C: 21.2% | Calcium: 7.2% | Iron: 2.1%


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