Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette is a juicy tomato salad with creamy slices of fresh mozzarella, peppery basil leaves, and the velvety tang of Kalamata olives ~ it’s what summer is ALL about.

Colorful heirloom tomato caprese salad in a white bowl

tomato salad for dinner!

At our house summer isn’t allow to slip by without a whole lot of chunky tomato salads for dinner. At least once a week. This is the kind of meal that becomes the picture of August in your mind’s eye (it’ll haunt you and sustain you through the long winter months.)  The colors change depending on what’s at the market, and I’ll definitely change up the dressing, if there is any. Sometimes the tomatoes are so honey sweet there’s no need. But however I serve them, it’ll be pronto, these aren’t the kind of things you keep sitting around on your counter.

black olives in a small bowl

olives and the tomatoes are both fruits, so this is one glorious summer fruit salad!

I figured a rich Kalamata olive vinaigrette would complement the sweetness of this tomato salad, and I was right. I can’t resist those silky purple/black olives, they have such an intense flavor. I whiz them up with fresh garlic, olive oil and California balsamic vinegar ~ can you imagine the flavor? You’ll just have to try it yourself.

Heirloom tomatoes for a tomato salad

are heirloom tomatoes worth the extra cost?

I went a little nuts over heirlooms this year, but I’m not making any excuses. They’re such a pleasure, and the eating part is only half of it. Whenever I encounter them I like to linger and take my time deciding which ones need to come home with me. They are pricy, but if you find locally grown heirlooms they are well worth it. The flavors are more complex and varied than regular tomatoes.

Fondling heirloom tomatoes is a no-no

They’re super delicate… but I do anyway. I’m looking for firm flesh ~ if they’re soft, they’re bruised. It’s sad, because you hate to see them go to waste, but that’s part of the deal when you don’t breed a vegetable to be hardy enough to cross the country in a tractor trailer. I’ll take delicious over hardy any day.

Heirloom tomatoes with fresh herbs

heirloom tomato colors signal different flavors

I always try to get as much of a color range as I can because I love the way the subtle tones play off each other. But it’s not only visual, each variety has a unique flavor. Gather several different shades for a show stopping salad.

Just picked heirloom tomatoes

where to find heirloom tomatoes

Find them locally at farmers markets and farm stands. Big supermarkets often have them in summer, and I can find heirloom cherry tomatoes year round.

You can grow heirloom tomatoes yourself, but, spoiler alert, it’s not easy. Here’s a guide to some of the best heirlooms to grow yourself.  Unless you have a pretty skilled green thumb, better to find them at your local farmers market or grocery store that has the best product department.

Heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges in a white bowl

ingredients for an heirloom tomato caprese salad

Kalamatas aside, a classic Italian tomato salad needs only fresh basil and fresh mozzarella to complete it. I do add some thinly sliced red onion because I love that sharpness.

  • heirloom tomatoes, both full sized and cherries
  • fresh basil
  • red onion
  • kalamata olives
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • garlic
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with olives

fresh mozzarella is key

The creaminess of fresh mozzarella, whether cow’s milk, buffalo, or burrata, makes a big difference in this heirloom tomato caprese salad. The general rule of thumb ~ fresh mozzarella is made for eating raw, so save the shrink wrapped balls for your ‘za.

  • Fresh mozzarella is softer and creamier than regular ‘low moisture’ mozzarella. It’s also more perishable. It often comes in plastic tubs, floating in whey. You can buy it in many different sized balls, from tiny ‘pearls’ all the way up to a one pound ball. For my salad I used 4 bocconcini, which are the size of eggs.
  • Buffalo mozzarella is fresh mozzarella made with, yup, buffalo milk. Water buffalo milk, to be exact. The cheese has more flavor and a higher fat content than regular fresh mozzarella, and it’s considered a delicacy.
  • Burrata is fresh mozzarella cheese mixed with cream, and has an inner layer of soft cream that oozes out when you slice into it, it’s pure decadence.
  • You can actually make your own fresh mozzarella at home, it’s on my bucket list.

I’ve used all kinds of mozzarella here on the blog, from the tiniest perline in my MICRO CAPRESE SALAD, to the slightly larger pearles on my GUACAMOLE BRUSCHETTA. My FRIED ROSEMARY MOZZARELLA BALLS and my favorite ANTIPASTO SKEWERS feature the next size up, ciliegine.

A tomato salad on a wooden table

heirloom tomato salad tips

  • Notice I didn’t slice my tomatoes for this salad, like I usually do. Heirloom tomatoes are famously mis-shapen, and can’t always be sliced evenly. They often have lumps and bumps which beg to be lopped off in big juicy chunks.
  • Tomatoes start to go downhill the minute you slice into them, so plan to eat the salad soon after you make it.
  • Remember, a good tomato is a good tomato, no matter what color, and buying heirloom tomatoes doesn’t guarantee you anything. Go with what tastes good and you’ll be good 🙂
  • This is a summer salad, don’t try to make it offseason.
Making an heirloom Tomato Salad on a wooden table

more tomato recipes

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad in a white bowl

“I made this last year, exactly according to your recipe, and it was divine. The dressing had more flavor than any dressing I’ve ever made, love this so much!”  

~ Arlene
heirloom caprese salad in a white bowl
4.5 from 30 votes

Heirloom Caprese Salad with Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette ~ this juicy, fruity, salad with creamy slices of fresh mozzarella, peppery basil leaves, and the velvety tang of Kalamata is what summer is ALL about.
Course Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 4 -6
Calories 274kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 4-6 good sized heirloom tomatoes in assorted colors
  • a handful of multi-colored cherry tomatoes
  • a large handful of fresh plucked basil leaves
  • 1/2 small red onion thinly sliced
  • 4 bocconcini sized balls of fresh mozzarella about 7 ounces, sliced
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives.

Kalamata vinaigrette

  • 5 Kalamata olives pitted
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil possibly more for thinning
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh thyme


  • Chop the heirloom tomatoes into large bite sized chunks. Halve the cherry tomatoes.
  • Put the onions, tomatoes, and basil into a large shallow salad bowl. Nestle the mozzarella slices in and among the tomatoes. Scatter the olives across the top. Add more fresh cracked pepper over all and garnish with more basil and thyme.
  • Use a small food processor to blitz the vinaigrette ~ add more olive oil if it is too thick. Taste and add more vinegar if you like, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve the salad lightly drizzled with the dressing, and provide extra on the side.
  • This salad is best eaten right away.

Cook’s notes

  • Can’t find heirlooms? Of course use red ripe tomatoes for this salad, they are wonderful.
  • If you use burrata cheese, place it in the center of your salad bowl or platter, and scoop some out with each serving.
  • Skip the Kalamata vinaigrette and serve with a traditional drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or a thicker balsamic syrup.


Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.3g | Protein: 8.6g | Fat: 23.5g | Saturated Fat: 6.6g | Sodium: 381.6mg | Fiber: 2.1g | Sugar: 4.5g
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2021 at 11:49 am

    The vinaigrette sounds delicious and will give it a go.Big Heads Up I found a 40 oz. tub of marinated fresh mozzarella balls at a certain Warehouse store on sale for $7.99.They`re bite size and should work well here.Thanks for the recipe.

  • Reply
    Cookin' Canuck
    July 12, 2021 at 11:13 am

    5 stars
    I’ve decided that I’ll be making this salad at least once a week this summer. The Kalamata olive dressing is brilliant!

    • Reply
      July 13, 2021 at 7:36 am

      5 stars
      Made this for lunch after reading this AM, the vinaigrette is delicious. Will be trying the vinaigrette elsewhere like on our Niscoise Salad.

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Meldrum
    July 12, 2021 at 10:09 am

    5 stars
    I love a caprese salad but never add onion or olives. I’m going to try it your way next time.

  • Reply
    July 12, 2021 at 9:37 am

    5 stars
    I love this salad! The olive-y vinaigrette pairs so perfectly with this very pretty dish that always impresses my guests!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2021 at 9:32 am

    5 stars
    If I could chose the most “me” recipe, it would probably be this one. I love the kalamata olive vinaigrette. Your pictures are gorgeous. Magazine worthy.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      July 12, 2021 at 9:46 am

      I totally agree, this is a ‘me’ recipe too 🙂

  • Reply
    Shadi Hasanzadenemati
    July 12, 2021 at 8:24 am

    5 stars
    My family is going to love this! The flavors are perfect and I can’t wait to try it.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    I’m always looking for recipes of bright salads with no lettuces or other leafy greens since my husband can’t have those. This looks so good I want to plunge a fork through my computer screen and stab a big bite of every colorful thing!

  • Reply
    May 11, 2019 at 8:10 am

    5 stars
    I made this last year, exactly according to your recipe, and it was divine. The dressing had more flavor than any dressing I’ve ever made, love this so much!

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    August 4, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    This is gorgeous, Sue! My dream summer salad with those beautiful heirlooms!

  • Reply
    SavoringTime IntheKitchen
    August 4, 2017 at 7:17 am

    5 stars
    JUST starting to pick ripe tomatoes here! It’s been a very wet season for the tomatoes. What a beautiful salad, Sue!

  • Reply
    Robyn Gleason
    August 1, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    5 stars
    I’m speechless over this post, Sue. Stunning! Delicious! Best ever! Your photography is truly a work of art 🙂

  • Reply
    August 1, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Those heirloom tomatoes are so pretty!! The perfect bowl of salad I would say, for the season.

  • Reply
    August 1, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Oh that dressing! And the gorge toms..wow.

  • Reply
    Traci | Vanilla And Bean
    July 31, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    A fabulous take on Heirloom tomatoes and you’ve captured them SO beautifully Sue! Indeed they’re fragile and this is one reason I’m always hesitant to purchase them from the grocery. I tend to wait for the CSA or farmers market to offer them, although this year I folded. I’m so ready to start seeing this eye candy at the market! Thank you for breaking down mozz. for us! I didn’t know buffalo mozz was made from buffalo milk I just found a resource for burratta too. Hooray! It’s taken me all year, but our cheese monger finally started carrying it locally..! Beautiful work Sue!

    • Reply
      August 1, 2017 at 6:47 am

      Thanks so much Traci ~ and I think you’re smart to get focus on local toms. I’m jealous of your local buratta!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Sue I love this salad. It looks amazing. I always look forward to heirloom season!

  • Reply
    2 sisters recipes
    July 31, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Hey – our favorite tomato salad – love the kalamata vinaigrette – yum!

    • Reply
      July 31, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks ladies, I’m kinda proud of that vinaigrette 😉 It’s such a simple idea but boy is it full of flavor.

  • Reply
    July 31, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    5 stars
    What a talent you are. These photos are so vibrant and lovely!

    • Reply
      July 31, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Thanks Kate, right back at you!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2017 at 11:19 am

    5 stars
    Didn’t find any heirloom tomatoes here in Spain. But anyway, we have a lot of excellent colorful tomatoes and the result was great. Thanks for the recipe, that vinaigrette … wow I just love it!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2017 at 9:32 am

    What a truly beautiful salad, love herlooms and the Kalamata olive vinaigrette sounds divine……..way to go!

    • Reply
      July 31, 2017 at 9:38 am

      I’m loving that vinaigrette, I made a double batch and we had it on roasted potatoes the next night :)))

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    July 31, 2017 at 8:24 am

    What a beautiful salad and such a great way to use beautiful Summer tomatoes!

    • Reply
      July 31, 2017 at 9:39 am

      I’m using ’em while I can get ’em, Jennifer!

  • Reply
    Tina Dawson | Love is in my Tummy
    July 31, 2017 at 7:50 am

    This salad looks (and sounds) absolutely heavenly! I really need to get my hands on some heirloom tomatoes soon!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Your right tomatoes and olives are fruits but people always look at me strange when I call them fruits…
    what a gorgeous salad, I love all the flavors going on

    • Reply
      July 31, 2017 at 7:34 am

      I think the connection is more obvious with heirlooms, they’re so sweet.

  • Reply
    Jeni @ Biscuits & Booze
    July 31, 2017 at 7:06 am

    This salad is basically heaven. I can’t get enough heirloom tomatoes in the summer time either. I bought an entire box last weekend and made tomato jam, sandwiches a go-go, and salads too. Your salad here has me wanting to do it all over again, with burrata, because like you mentioned, yes. Pure decadence!

    • Reply
      July 31, 2017 at 7:33 am

      Heirloom sandwiches a go-go ~ love it!

  • Reply
    Julia @ Happy Foods Tube
    July 31, 2017 at 6:28 am

    Tomatoes, olives, mozzarella…all my favorite ingredients! Love it!

  • Reply
    Suzy | The Mediterranean Dish
    July 31, 2017 at 5:56 am

    Oh, Sue, this is gorgeous!!! Sharing for sure!

    • Reply
      July 31, 2017 at 6:25 am

      Thanks Suzy!

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    July 31, 2017 at 5:28 am

    Heirloom tomatoes are like beautiful artwork to me and so is this amazing salad. Everything I love in one pretty bowl!

    • Reply
      July 31, 2017 at 6:27 am

      I totally agree Chris, and each one of them is so unique.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    July 31, 2017 at 5:12 am

    I am heading to the store to buy some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and olives to make this luscious salad. LOVE all these flavors and colors. Sharing and pinning!

    • Reply
      July 31, 2017 at 6:28 am

      I’ve been obsessed with these tomatoes this year, Tricia, and with this salad I tried to focus on the subtler colors, it was fun, and delicious!

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    July 31, 2017 at 3:18 am

    So colourful and beautiful! I need to get some heirloom tomatoes.

    • Reply
      July 31, 2017 at 6:04 am

      I hope you find some Angie, they’ve given me such pleasure this season!

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