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Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette

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

Colorful heirloom tomato caprese salad in a white bowl

The summer isn’t allowed to pass around here without a whole lot of these 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

When you think about it, the olives and the tomatoes are both fruits, so this is one glorious summer fruit salad!

I decided that a rich Kalamata olive vinaigrette would complement the sweetness of this heirloom tomato caprese salad.  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

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.

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

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.

Just picked heirloom tomatoes

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

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 Tomato Caprese Salad with olives

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

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 being lopped off in big juicy chunks.

TIP: Tomatoes start to go downhill the minute you slice into them, so plan to eat the salad soon after you make it.

Making an heirloom Tomato Salad on a wooden table

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 🙂

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad in a white bowl

Reader Rave ~

“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

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4 from 15 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 Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 4 -6
Calories 274kcal


  • 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.


Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.3g | Protein: 8.6g | Fat: 23.5g | Saturated Fat: 6.6g | Sodium: 381.6mg | Fiber: 2.1g | Sugar: 4.5g

Make it your own ~

  • 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.



Thanks for pinning this Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad!

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • 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

    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

    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

  • 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
    July 31, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I’m so glad you commented on my site! 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
    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 11:19 am

    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!