Mediterranean Tomato Salad

(with Manchego and a Homemade Pesto Dressing)

A large plate of Mediterranean Tomato Salad sits. with lots of pesto dressing and shaved pieces of Manchego cheese

Mediterranean tomato salad with manchego and a homemade pesto dressing is a great way to add some flair to the plain tomato salad recipes of yesteryear! Our step-by-step recipe walks you through how to make a refreshing tomato salad that’s ideal as a tasty side dish or fantastic all on its own. 

This vegetarian-friendly recipe takes just 10 minutes to prepare and requires no special equipment. In fact, there’s no cooking required at all! Our recipe makes a large tomato salad that will fill a platter and is a perfect side dish for 6 people, or a tasty and healthy main meal for 3 people. 

Easy Recipe | Tapas Recipe | Vegetarian | Salad Recipe | Mediterranean | Summer Recipe | Healthy Recipe | 10-Minute Recipe | Manchego Recipe | Tomato Recipe | Pesto Recipe

Serving:

Tapas for 6

Ready in:

10 minutes

Skill level:

Easy

Serve with:

Fresh bread

Ingredients you’ll need to make Mediterranean Tomato Salad

Serves 6 – Tapas

    For the salad

    • 1kg/35oz. of tomatoes (a few different varieties is best)
    • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
    • ½ tsp caster sugar
    • 75g/2.5oz. manchego cheese
    • 75g/2.5oz. alcaparrones (giant capers)
    • 30g/1oz. toasted flaked almond (For garnishing)
    • 30g/1oz. Dried pumpkin seeds (Optional, for garnishing)
    • 6 slices Jamon Iberico or Serrano ham (Meat-option)

    For the homemade pesto dressing

    • 1 tsp caster sugar
    • Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
    • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
    • 30g1oz. toasted flaked almond
    • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
    • 2 garlic cloves

            Equipment needed

            • 1 large serving platter around 12-16 inches (30-40cm)
            • A mortar and pestle for making the pesto.
            • Nutribullet (optional)
            A large plate of Mediterranean Tomato Salad sits. with lots of pesto dressing and shaved pieces of Manchego cheese

            About this recipe:

            When it comes to summer salad recipes, tomato salad has to be one that comes to my mind as soon as the mercury starts to rise. Tomato salad recipes in their simplest form can be nothing more than a few generous slices of ripe tomato, garnished by little more than some cracked black pepper and a generous pinch of coarse sea salt

            So popular is this ‘caprese’ styled tomato salad, that it’s often hard to imagine anything else. 

            However, explore the culinary delights of Spain, and in particular the Mediterranean coast, and you’ll find a wealth of rich and colorful Mediterranean tomato salad recipes that use adventurous ingredients that tantalize the tastebuds during the summer months. 

            Our tomato salad recipe combines ingredients from a classic Murcian Salad (giant capers, red onion) along with shaved pieces of Manchego cheese and Serrano ham. Top this with a homemade pesto dressing and you’ve got a quick and easy tomato salad that is worthy of a festive summer BBQ or luscious poolside lunch

            Hello Summer! We’ve missed you! 

            Looking for more summer recipe inspiration? 

            Check out our Summer salads and no-cook recipes to keep you cool this summer!

            Ingredients for a Mediterranean tomato salad sit on a granite countertop

            Best tomatoes to use

            We have used three different varieties of tomatoes for this recipe, simply to add some different color and flavor. No tomato variety is created equal and you’ll do well to steer clear of the most common ‘salad tomato’ variety that’s so commonly found in supermarkets. 

            Use locally sourced tomatoes

            Choose a few different varieties and look for ripe tomatoes that are firm and ready to eat immediately. Locally sourced tomatoes will always be best, as they’ll be fresher and often can be found organically grown, giving them a better flavor and color

            When choosing your tomatoes, check that the skin is firm and without any blemishes. If the stem is attached firmly to the tomato, that’s often a good sign. 

            As we are in Spain, we had plenty of tomato variety options to choose from! Here are the tomato varieties we used for this recipe.

            • Huevos de Toro (Bull’s Egg tomatoes)
            • Kumato Alias Tomate Negro (Black tomatoes)
            • Tomate De Terreno (Field tomatoes found in Spain during the summer only)

            Summer Tomatoes

            Come summertime, there’s a bounty of fresh tomato varieties available and it’s a great time to explore the different flavors and textures of the different varieties. 

            Here are some other common tomato varieties found all over the world, and they are ideal for experimenting with a wide range of tomato recipes (including this salad);

            • Cherry tomatoes – Available in a variety of colors, with sweet intense flavors. Excellent for salads and roasting.
            • Beefsteak tomatoes – Large tomatoes with a fleshy texture. The fruit’s skin is smooth and brilliant red in color. Excellent all-purpose tomato.
            • Brandywine – A large tomato with reddish-pink skin. Ideal for grilling as they have a balance between sweetness and acidity. 
            • Plum Tomato – Also known as the Roma tomato, this variety is ideal for making soups and gazpachos due to the sweet flavors once ripened. Plum tomatoes are a great all-purpose tomato that’s commonly found preserved in tins. 
            • Green Zebra – A green-skinned tomato with a more acidic taste, these tomatoes are excellent for making sauces and jams. They can also be good in savory dishes.
            A large white marble mortar sits with some homemade green pesto in the bottom.

            Homemade pesto

            If there’s one thing that really makes this recipe really pop, it’s the homemade pesto dressing. This dressing uses simple ingredients and requires no special equipment, although if you want to save some time, a nutribullet is the easiest way to get the right consistency. 

            Ingredients for making homemade pesto dressing;

            • 1 tsp caster sugar
            • Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
            • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
            • 30g/1oz. toasted flaked almonds
            • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
            • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)

            How to make homemade pesto dressing

            For this salad, we’ve opted for a pesto-style ‘crushed’ salad dressing that uses some very easy-to-find ingredients. 

            First, finely chop the parsley and peeled garlic cloves as much as you can, then you’ll need to combine all of the ingredients. We used a mortar and pestle and it took around 2-3 minutes to combine everything. You want to make a thick dressing and not a paste so don’t overdo it when combining the ingredients. 

            Cooking tip: If you’re using a blender or nutribullet, a few quick buzzes for 10 seconds at a time will do it. 

            A note on the pesto dressing:

            Hailing from Italy, “pesto” comes from the verb “pestare,” meaning “to crush.” We’ve adapted the typical recipe to use common Spanish ingredients.

            A large plate of Mediterranean Tomato Salad sits. with lots of pesto dressing and shaved pieces of Manchego cheese

            Manchego Cheese

            Manchego is a mature Spanish cheese that is from the inland La Mancha region of Spain. Manchego is prized for using milk of the Manchega sheep and can be easily identified by its distinctive brown herringbone rind. Manchego has a bold flavor that sharpens with age and often carries a sweet zesty taste along with a more dense nutty texture. 

            Manchego pairs exceptionally well with almonds, and the duo are regulars in many Spanish recipes. In this recipe, we use thinly shaved pieces of Manchego that provide a fantastic texture and add layers of dense flavors alongside the tomato, giant capers, and rich pesto dressing. 

            Other toppings for tomato salad

            This tomato salad recipe already has a lot of flavor layering and combines the sweetness of the tomatoes, the saltiness of the pesto dressing along with the sharpness of the Manchego cheese. There are also the sharp flavors of red onion and giant capers (called ‘alcaparrones’ in Spanish) that add some crunch to the salad. 

            Of course, serrano ham or Jamón Ibérico is also a great meat option and a few shaved ham slices can easily top the salad adding a delicious salty flavor. 

            A spoonful of Mediterranean Tomato Salad is held above a large salad platter
            A large plate of Mediterranean Tomato Salad sits. with lots of pesto dressing and shaved pieces of Manchego cheese

            Mediterranean Tomato Salad (with manchego and pesto)

            Byron
            This vegetarian-friendly recipe takes just 10 minutes to prepare and requires no special equipment. In fact, there’s no cooking required at all! Our recipe makes a large tomato salad that will fill a platter and is a perfect side dish for 6 people, or a tasty and healthy main meal for 3 people.
            5 from 6 votes
            Prep Time 10 mins
            Cook Time 0 mins
            Total Time 10 mins
            Course appertizer, Salad, Side Dish, starter, tapas
            Cuisine American, Authentic Spanish recipe, Mediterranean, salad, Spain, vegetarian
            Servings 6 Tapas
            Calories 187 kcal

            Equipment

            • 1 large serving platter around 12-16 inches (30-40cm)
            • 1 Mortar and pestle for making the pesto.
            • 1 Nutribullet (optional)

            Ingredients
              

            For the salad

            • 1 kg of tomatoes a few different varieties is best
            • ½ red onion thinly sliced
            • ½ tsp caster sugar
            • 75 g g manchego cheese
            • 75 g g alcaparrones giant capers
            • 30 g g toasted flaked almond For garnishing
            • 30 g g Dried pumpkin seeds Optional, for garnishing
            • 6 slices Jamon Iberico or Serrano ham Meat-option

            For the homemade pesto dressing

            • 1 tsp caster sugar
            • Handful of fresh parsley roughly chopped
            • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
            • 30 g g toasted flaked almond
            • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus a little extra for drizzling
            • 2 garlic cloves

            Instructions
             

            STEP 1 - Prepare the salad

            • Slice the tomatoes and arrange on a large platter.
              1 kg of tomatoes
              Slices of tomato sit on a serving platter
            • Next, add the red onion on top and sprinkle everything with a good pinch of salt and around ½ tsp of sugar. Add capers and leave the salad to stand uncovered for around 5 minutes while you make the homemade pesto dressing.
              ½ red onion, 75 g g alcaparrones, ½ tsp caster sugar
              tomato slices, red onion, capers sit on a servingplatter

            STEP 2 - Make the homemade pesto dressing

            • First, finely chop the parsley and peeled garlic cloves as much as you can, then you’ll need to combine all of the ingredients. We used a mortar and pestle and it took around 2-3 minutes to combine everything. You want to make a thick dressing and not a paste so don’t overdo it when combining the ingredients.
              Note: If you’re using a blender or nutribullet, a few quick buzzes for 10 seconds at a time will do it.
              Handful of fresh parsley, 2 tbsp sherry vinegar, 30 g g toasted flaked almond, 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tsp caster sugar
              A large white marble mortar sits with some homemade green pesto in the bottom.

            STEP 3 - Add garnishing and serve

            • Drizzle over the pesto dressing and scatter some almonds and a few shavings of manchego over the salad. Optionally, add a few pieces of shaved serrano ham on top and serve.
              75 g g manchego cheese, 30 g g toasted flaked almond, 30 g g Dried pumpkin seeds, 6 slices Jamon Iberico or Serrano ham
              A large plate of Mediterranean Tomato Salad sits. with lots of pesto dressing and shaved pieces of Manchego cheese

            Video

            Notes

            Storage:

            Store any leftover tomato salad in a sealable container in the fridge. Tomato salad will keep for up to 2 days. Freezing is not recommended. 

            Nutrition

            Serving: 200gCalories: 187kcalCarbohydrates: 9.3gProtein: 3.2gFat: 16.8gSaturated Fat: 2.5gSodium: 227mgPotassium: 479mgFiber: 2.8gSugar: 4.9gCalcium: 38mgIron: 2mg
            Keyword 10-minute recipe, authentic Spanish cuisine, easy recipe, easy to make, manchego, mediterranean, mediterranean cuisine, salad, salad dressing, summer, tomato, vegetarian
            Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

            Tomato Salad with Manchego – Prep tips and FAQs

            How long does this tomato salad recipe take to make?

            • Prep time: 10 minutes
            • Cook time: None
            • Total time: 10 minutes

            What are the best tomatoes to use?

            • Beefsteak tomatoes
            • Brandywine
            • Plum Tomatoes
            • Cherry Tomatoes
            • Bull’s Egg Tomatoes 
            • Black Tomatoes
            • Field tomatoes

            Can I use serrano ham or Jamón ibérico as a topping?

            If you’re looking for a meat option, add a few slices of serrano or Jamón ibérico. You’ll only need around 50g/2oz.

            Is tomato salad healthy?

            Tomato salad is very healthy. Tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants and are a great source of vitamin C. Tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil have been linked to reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. 

            A 200g serving of this tomato salad provides the following nutritional information;

            • Calories: 187
            • Cholesterol: ZERO
            • Fiber: 2.8g (10%)

            Is tomato salad good for weight loss?

            Tomato salad is a great way to satisfy your hunger while not containing too many calories. Tomato salad also provides essential nutrients and minerals to help aid a healthy balanced diet. 

            How long will tomato salad keep?

            Once you cut tomatoes they will degrade quickly and become soggy. Keep any leftover tomato salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. 

            Does tomato salad need to be refrigerated?

            Yes, store any leftover tomato salad in an airtight container in the fridge. Freezing tomato salad is not recommended. 

            Can tomato salad be made ahead?

            It’s best to make your tomato salad fresh. Tomatoes tend to become soggy after a few hours. Make it 30 minutes before and store your tomato salad covered in the fridge for best results.

            Looking for more easy-to-make summer salad recipes?

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            A large plate of Mediterranean Tomato Salad sits. with lots of pesto dressing and shaved pieces of Manchego cheese

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