Juicy heirloom tomatoes, creamy whipped ricotta, olives and pine nuts, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with tons of fresh herbs is the summer salad you will make all tomato season long. Super fresh and full of amazing flavors, it’s perfect thing to impress your summer dinner party guests.
Nothing makes me happier during the summer months than beautiful heirloom tomatoes! During peak season, farm stands and backyards are just bursting with ripe, juicy tomatoes. I could live for weeks on just summer tomatoes, soft cheese and crusty bread. It’s probably my favorite meal of all time.
As much as I love a great Caprese salad, sometimes you need something a little more interesting and elevated. This heirloom tomato salad with whipped ricotta is seriously next level.
So add heirloom tomatoes to your farmers’ market haul and let’s make it. Oh, and don’t forget the crusty baguette!
Heirloom tomato vs regular tomato
Heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated tomato varieties that were introduced before 1940 or that have more than 50 years in circulation. Unlike regular commercial tomatoes that you’ll find in grocery stores, heirloom tomatoes have not been bred for specific characteristics or undergone any genetic modification. They are naturally pollinated, resulting in the amazingly unique variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
There are more than 3,000 unique varieties of heirloom tomato plants currently being cultivated around the world. How cool is that?
Heirloom tomato season runs from late summer into early fall. Although they can be found in your regular grocery store, the best place to find them is at the local farmer’s market. At the height of summer, the farm stand is where you’ll find the freshest variety of tomatoes that are perfect for making beautiful salads.
Why you will love this recipe
- A salad with heirloom tomatoes looks interesting and sophisticated, but it’s an easy appetizer recipe with simple ingredients.
- This simple preparation is one of the best ways to enjoy the amazing flavors of fresh tomatoes and herbs. It’s perfectly balanced with the perfect amount of creaminess from the ricotta and saltiness from the olives and capers.
- It’s flexible. The ingredient amounts are not strict measurements and you can add more or less of anything to taste. You can even swap out the whipped ricotta for slices of fresh mozzarella or torn burrata.
- If you’re an heirloom tomato lover, this will quickly become one of your favorite ways to serve them.
To make this easy and absolutely gorgeous fresh heirloom tomato salad, all you need is a handful of fresh ingredients.
- Ripe heirloom tomatoes – Have fun picking out different colors and sizes. You can use big fat ones or cute little heirloom cherry tomatoes. The most important thing is to use super fresh tomatoes. Have fun designing your plate!
- Olives – a mix of Castelvetrano and Kalamata olives.
- Fresh herbs – my favorite combination is fresh mint, dill, parsley and chives. You can use whatever mix of fresh, soft herbs are available.
- Ricotta cheese – use whole milk ricotta. You can often find this at the farmers market cheese stand. Check the deli or prepared foods counter at the grocery store for fresh, homemade ricotta.
- Heavy cream – just a touch to give the whipped ricotta a smooth, velvety texture.
- Pine nuts – add another element of texture to the dish.
- Extra-virgin olive oil – this salad is all about complementing the flavor of delicious tomatoes. Splurge on great quality olive oil!
- Red wine vinegar – for a hint of acidity. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice also works.
- Flaky sea salt
How to make heirloom tomato salad
Put your serving dish in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare all of the components.
Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes until they are lightly brown and smell nutty. Immediately transfer to a dish and set aside to cool.
Make the whipped ricotta by combining it with heavy cream and olive oil and beating with a hand mixer, stand mixer or in a food processor until creamy and spreadable.
Roughly chop together olives, capers and some parsley. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a some red wine vinegar to make a quick tapenade.
With a sharp knife, cut heirloom tomatoes into thick slices starting at the bottom. If it has an awkward bulbous shape at the top, just cut those parts into wedges. If you’re using heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut them in half.
Assemble the salad by swooshing the whipped ricotta on a cold serving platter. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Arrange tomato slices on top and sprinkle with a big pinch of flaky sea salt. I like to put the tomatoes slightly to the side and leave some of the whipped ricotta exposed so that everyone can see all of the components of the dish.
Spoon olive tapenade over the tomatoes. Drizzle with more olive oil. Top with toasted pine nuts and plenty of fresh, mixed herbs. Serve immediately with good, crusty bread.
Tips for success
- Use the freshest ingredients possible. The best quality heirloom tomatoes are definitely at your local farmer’s market. They should be enjoyed right away at room temperature.
- Make sure that you use whole milk ricotta for best results.
- Don’t forget to chill you serving platter while you’re prepping the rest of the ingredients. It really helps the whipped ricotta stay at the perfect consistency.
- Season all of the components accordingly. Add a pinch of salt to the whipped ricotta, season tomatoes with salt and finish each layer with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Whipped ricotta can be made up to a day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Prepare the salad fresh and enjoy right away. Leftovers will not keep well, but no worries, you won’t have any!
What to serve with heirloom tomato salad
- Good, crusty bread is a non-negotiable.
- Grilled Mediterranean Chicken or simple grilled steak or fish with vegetables.
- Farmer’s Market Green Pasta
More elegant summer salad recipes you will love
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Whipped Ricotta
- 1.5-2 pounds fresh heirloom tomatoes
- ⅓ cup pitted olives half Kalamata and half Castelvetrano
- 1 tablespoon capers drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- ¼ cup chopped fresh soft herbs 1 tablespoon each of parsley, mint, chives and dill
- flaky sea salt to taste
- more olive oil for drizzling on top
- 8 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or half and half
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of salt
- Place your serving dish in the refrigerator to chill while you assemble the ingredients for the salad.
- Add ricotta cheese, olive oil, heavy cream and a pinch of salt to a large bowl and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Set aside.
- In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast pine nuts until their light golden brown in color and smell nutty. Transfer to heat safe dish immediately and allow to cool completely.
- On a cutting board, chop together olives, capers and fresh parsley. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in olive oil and red wine vinegar.
- Chop fresh herbs.
- Slice the heirloom tomatoes into thick slices. If using cherry heirloom tomatoes, cut in half.
- Spread whipped ricotta on cold serving dish. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Add sliced tomatoes on top and season with a pinch of salt. Spoon olive mixture over the tomatoes. Drizzle with a little bit more olive oil. Top with toasted pine nuts and fresh herbs. Serve immediately.