Basil Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

Basil Salad with Tomatoes is a clelbration of summer's best produce! |

Basil Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes is a celebration of mid-summer, when the basil is going gangbusters and heirloom tomatoes are in their glory days. This is a simple, healthy salad that will delight friends and family with bold flavor and gorgeous color.

Photo of basil salad with heirloom tomatoes in a white bowl.

Basil fills in for lettuce in this epic summer salad!

There’s nothing revolutionary about this recipe except that I’ve used basil and only basil for my greens, and the payoff is huge. Talk about explosive flavor! I love using herbs as the base for salads, it’s a nice change of pace and nobody expects it. If you’re intrigued by the idea check out these other herb salads on the blog~

Overhead photo of basil salad with heirloom tomatoes in a white bowl.

I can’t imagine a better way to revel in summer basil…

pick the freshest leaves for this salad, living plants are best, whether they’re from your garden, the nursery, or the supermarket. Plan to assemble everything just before serving while the leaves are still quivering. Add some colorful heirloom tomatoes, either full size or cherries, thin rounds of bright red onion, and lots of toasted pine nuts. There’s no cheese to weigh this salad down, it’s light as a feather and pure heaven.

Overhead photo of basil salad with heirloom tomatoes in a white bowl.

Heirloom tomatoes show their true colors only after they’ve been sliced.

They can be one color on the outside, and completely different when you cut into them. Some are solid, and some are mottled. Even if you are using cherry tomatoes, make sure to halve or quarter them, not only is this prettier, it allows the juices and flavors to hit your taste buds right away. Choose firm but fragrant tomatoes, anything that feels too soft is bound to be mushy.

Photo of heirloom tomatoes in a colander for basil salad with heirloom tomatoes.

If you want to make a meal out of this Basil Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, top it with grilled chicken, salmon, or shrimp.

Overhead photo of basil salad with heirloom tomatoes in a white bowl.

notes  ~

  • Don’t chop the basil, it will bruise…keep the leaves whole and choose a variety of sizes. If you need to wash it, do it very gently and make sure it is really dry before adding it to the bowl.
  • Drizzle the dressing on immediately before serving so the delicate basil leaves don’t wilt. No need to toss.
  • This salad is ideal for arranging on individual serving plates, too.
3.5 from 20 votes

Basil Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

Basil Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes is a celebration of mid-summer, when the basil is going gangbusters and heirloom tomatoes are in their glory days.  This is a simple, healthy salad that will delight friends and family with bold flavor and gorgeous color.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 4 handfuls of fresh picked basil leaves
  • an equal amount of chopped heirloom tomatoes
  • thin rounds of red onion to taste
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • a drizzle of your best olive oil and balsamic vinegar


  • Choose a wide shallow salad bowl and add the fresh basil leaves. Top with the tomatoes, red onion, and pine nuts.
  • Grind a generous amount of fresh pepper over everything, add a dash of salt, and then drizzle with the oil and vinegar just before serving.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

don’t forget to pin this simple basil salad with heirloom tomatoes!

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Jill Hawkins
    August 14, 2020 at 5:34 am

    5 stars
    Such fun to pluck the basil from my herb garden and get local red onions and heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market. This salad was a huge hit at a socially distanced girls gathering dinner- and was my first “herb based” salad. Super fresh and colorful and going heavy on the pine nuts was a home run.

  • Reply
    Melissa Griffiths
    April 21, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    OK, 1. this is gorgeous. 2. basil as the base?! I’m so intrigued! Trying this when my garden starts producing!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Love the idea of using whole basil leaves! My father used to make salad using whole Italian parsley leaves and I loved how totally pure the herb tasted; bet this has the same effect. Also am thinking some shaved parmesan would be great on top ot this.

    • Reply
      July 15, 2016 at 5:55 am

      I have another salad on the blog that is just parsley, oranges, and black olives, from an Italian cookbook and I love it. I bet your father’s salad was amazing, what else was in it?

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    July 14, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I love this summery salad, Sue! I could live on this all season long!

  • Reply
    Katherine | Omnivore's Cookbook
    July 11, 2016 at 5:26 am

    Love this summer in a bowl! Must make soon!

  • Reply
    Rosemary Wolbert | Sprigs of Rosemary
    July 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    I have enough of my own basil to make this sald, Sue . . . and I shall!

    • Reply
      July 10, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      You’re a lucky woman, Rosemary!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2016 at 7:40 am

    This simple, seasonal salad is just gorgeous! Nothing like fresh tomatoes and basil—such a heavenly combination!

  • Reply
    Robyn @ Simply Fresh Dinners
    July 8, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Oh, look at those beauties! i can’t wait till they’re ready here. It’s one of my favorite foods to play with. This is a gorgeous salad, Sue, and I love using fabulous basil as the greens especially when it’s this fresh.
    Love it!

  • Reply
    July 8, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Summer means fistfuls of basil! GREG

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    July 8, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Beautiful salad and so seasonally perfect to enjoy right now when all these things are at their best 🙂

  • Reply
    Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table
    July 8, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Great recipes don’t have to be revolutionary; they just need to rely on good ingredients. Great work showcasing heirloom tomatoes here!

    • Reply
      July 8, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Thanks Ksenia, and I agree, some of the best food is pretty darned simple. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Reply
    July 8, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Basil and tomatoes go so well together. I love the way you used the basil as a base. Makes it uniquely different. Can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  • Reply
    July 8, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Wow! I’ve never thought to use just basil as the base. Such an amazing summer salad. Love all the heirlooms.

    • Reply
      July 8, 2016 at 8:33 am

      I’m glad I could inspire you Tara — the basil isn’t as intense as you might think because the sweetness of the tomatoes balances it out nicely, I just love it!

  • Reply
    July 8, 2016 at 7:49 am

    I am craving for this salad now! The tomatoes look so scrumptious! I love the addition of pine nuts too.

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    July 8, 2016 at 7:42 am

    This truly looks like artwork Sue and definitely the essence of summer. Love those gorgeous tomatoes, can’t wait till mine start rolling in! This will be on the menu, for sure!

  • Reply
    July 8, 2016 at 6:54 am

    This looks and sounds refreshingly delicious! …and because I’m currently staring at my out.of.control basil plant, I think I’ll be trying this recipe ASAP! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing! XO

    • Reply
      July 8, 2016 at 7:42 am

      I figured a lot of people must have big basil right now, and you can only make so much pesto 🙂

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    July 8, 2016 at 6:46 am

    Oh the colors in this salad! My basil has gone nuts this summer – so I am making this ASAP! We have some great balsamic and olive oils in the pantry. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

    • Reply
      July 8, 2016 at 6:50 am

      You’re so lucky, I have a black thumb reserved just for basil, i can’t get it to thrive, so I spend a fortune on the little plants at the supermarket — I know you’ll love this salad Tricia!

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    July 8, 2016 at 5:18 am

    wow those heirloom tomatoes…I am in love with them. A really beautiful and fresh summertime salad, Sue.

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