Jamie Oliver’s ‘Mothership’ Tomato Salad

Recipe Pin
45 minutes
8 servings

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Jamie Oliver’s ‘Mothership’ Tomato Salad is simply outstanding. After trying this one, I stopped experimenting with just any old recipe for my summer tomatoes.

A fresh salad of mozzarella, tomatoes, and herbs.

With great thanks and appreciation, this recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s original Mothership Tomato Salad.

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I have a habit of wandering through farmer’s markets. Back in New Jersey, I’d spend my days visiting local events and stopping at independent farmers’ roadside stands and cooperative farmer’s markets. Many Jersey stands operated on the honor system, where you’d tuck your cash into a little box and pick out the freshest produce. Some stands even featured freshly baked pies and brown eggs. Seriously, who could resist something so fresh and made with love?

Then, there are open-air markets that offer a treasure trove of delights. Vendor after vendor displays wonderful fresh vegetables and fruits, single-batch specialty cheeses made from the milk of local goats and sheep, pots of herbs for you to plant at home, and local artisans selling soaps, jewelry, and fabric goods. Next time you get the chance, leave your car behind and stroll through a farmers’ market!

When tomato season rolls in, it can be difficult to use everything ripening in your kitchen garden simultaneously. If at a loss for new ways to put your bounty to use, browse my recipes for Fresh Peach and Tomato Caprese Salad, Farm Recipe Green Tomato and Raspberry Pie, and Fresh Corn & Tomato Salad. If you need to broaden your repertoire, don’t miss this Amish style potato salad!

A platter of various sizes and colors of tomatoes with dressing and basil leaves.
a pink circle with a 'J' inside representing the logo or branding for Not Entirely Average southern food blog

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

·         Seasonal Ingredients – For the best-tasting salad, purchase tomatoes the same day they are picked, as the key to this recipe is using the freshest you can find.
·         Oregano Vinaigrette – Balances the acidity in the tomatoes and offers a unique flavor profile, as it’s a strong herb paired with Balsamic vinegar in its components.
·         Simplicity – The different colors and shapes of the tomatoes add to the visual appeal of the salad, while really the only effort required is chopping them before tossing them with dressing.
·         Total Crowd Pleaser – Assemble a little or a lot and watch it disappear!

Ingredients for Mothership Tomato Salad

Ingredients required to make tomato salad.
  • Ripe tomatoes – source different shapes, sizes, and colors and use fresh!
  • Sea salt – used not only to flavor the salad but also to hasten the weeping of the tomatoes before the salad’s assembly, removing excess moisture.
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh oregano leaves – the basis for the vinaigrette.
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Balsamic vinegar – Balsamic vinegar can be expensive, but it is worth it to seek a quality aged product such as a Balsamic from Modena, Italy. The difference in flavor is very, very noticeable.
  • Olive oil – good olive oil is made from whole olives, not extracted. Choose cold-pressed and look for “extra virgin” on the label, as this is the highest quality grade of olive oil available.
  • Fresh garlic cloves – heighten the senses and make experiencing the flavors in this dish more intense.
  • Red pepper flakes
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See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.


Tomatoes on a cement surface.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Greek – add feta, cucumbers, and red onion. Serve with fresh oregano leaves.
  • Caprese – add fresh mozzarella and basil to showcase the flavors of fresh tomatoes.
  • Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes – roast ‘vine on tomatoes’ using balsamic vinegar and herbs, then garnish the salad with them to level the depth of flavor.
  • Grilled Tomatoes – a simple hack is to grill half the tomatoes, drizzling with Balsamic vinegar as they char, adding smoke nuances to the finished dish.
  • Tuscan Panzanella – tear uneven hunks of day-old bread and toss with the salad.
  • Caprese Pasta – cook 1 minute past al dente and incorporate rotini pasta and Ciliegine mozzarella balls with the existing ingredients. Magnifico!
  • Jamie Oliver’s The Mothership Tomato Salad with Burrata – a decadence familiar to ‘those in the know’ and an outstanding way to enjoy summer tomatoes.
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This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!


Fresh oregano growing in a garden.

Step By Step Instructions

I hope deciding on this recipe will encourage you to visit a local farm or farmer’s market for the ingredients. Fresh is delicious, but also so much fun to shop for!

A black field with a pink circle, the letter 'J' and an olive branch signifying the logo for the blog Not Entirely Average.

Tip: Use Good Quality Olive Oil!

Buy from a reputable source, choose cold-pressed, and look for “extra virgin” on the label, as this is the highest quality grade of olive oil available.


The stops demonstrated in images for how to make a tomato salad.

Step 1. In a food processor, combine fresh oregano, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup olive oil, garlic, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Blend until thick.

Step 2. Wash all tomatoes using a solution of 2 teaspoons baking soda per 1 quart water for 30 seconds. Rinse with fresh cold water, discard any with cracks or blemishes, and dry thoroughly on clean kitchen towels. Slice large tomatoes into ½-inch thick slices, halve cherry tomatoes and Romas, and cut others into uneven chunks.

Step 3. Place the tomatoes in a colander and season with 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt. Toss to coat, then let them sit for 20-30 minutes. Rinse gently and thoroughly under cool tap water, then drain on paper towels.

Step 4. Transfer the drained and dried tomatoes into a large bowl. Pour enough oregano dressing to coat them lightly and toss well. Turn marinated tomatoes onto a serving platter, garnish with additional oregano, basil leaves, and optional mozzarella or thinly sliced red onion. Serve remaining dressing on the side.

A caprese tomato salad with oregano and basil.

How to Serve Jamie Oliver’s Mothership Tomato Salad

  • Serve this simple salad as a side dish to barbecued chicken drumsticks or burgers on the grill.
  • “Beef it up” with fresh mozzarella, paper-thin slices of red onion, additional minced garlic cloves, avocado chunks, and uneven chunks of day-old bread to create a Panzanella salad.
  • Make this a meal and add Bocconcini or Burrata with cream as the centerpiece, a handful of toasted pine nuts, or a briny crumbled Feta sprinkled over the top, and of course, a hunk of crusty baguette to mop up the juices. Unreal…

Need to Make This Salad Portable?

A bunch of halved tomatoes.

Prepare yourself for ‘ooh’s and ahh’s and OMGs’ when you plunk this visual feast down at a potluck. Keep the components separate for transport. Have tomatoes marinating in a small fraction of the oregano vinaigrette in one container, torn herbs in another, and the reserved vinaigrette in a Mason jar to re-shake right before assembling on site. Add-ons such as mozzarella or torn bread should also be ported separately and added last. Bring a platter or large bowl if the hostess has none to spare!

Storage Instructions

  • This salad is best enjoyed the same day it’s assembled. If you have leftovers, put them into an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid and store them overnight only.
  • This is not freezable.

Jenny’s Recipe Pro Tips

  • Assemble FRESH! If serving to guests who aren’t due to arrive for another hour, wait to assemble the salad to ensure it remains fresh.
  • If adding mozzarella, seek quality! Smoked mozzarella, Ciliegine, Burrata, and Buffalo mozzarella are all excellent choices.
  • Use good balsamic and good olive oil. It makes every difference in the world in terms of taste in your recipes.

Recipe FAQs

Who Is Jamie Oliver?

Jamie Oliver is a British chef who achieved global fame with his television shows The Naked Chef (1999) and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (2010–11) and as author of a number of cookbooks with numerous culinary themes.

How Do You Make Tomatoes Taste Better in A salad?

To intensify the flavor of the tomatoes and ensure that your dressing is the only liquid in the bowl, first salt the tomatoes. Next, let them drain in a colander for 15-20 minutes. Finally, mix them with the other ingredients.

What Is the Sweetest Cherry Tomato Variety?

Both Solanum lycopersicum ‘Golden Sweet’ and Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Candyland Red’ are renowned for being among the sweetest small tomatoes.

Tomayto or Tomahto‘ – More Amazing Ways to Use ‘Em!

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After trying this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts! Consider leaving a star rating in the recipe card located below or sharing your feedback in the comment section. Your reviews and comments are highly valued and appreciated.

A platter filled with fresh tomato salad.

Jamie Oliver’s “Mothership” Tomato Salad

Jenny DeRemer
I've made many versions of tomato salad over the years, but I stopped experimenting when I found this one by Jamie Oliver.
 
4.85 from 33 votes
Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Sweating Tomatoes 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 8 servings
Calories 215 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 2 pounds tomatoes fresh and ripe; source different shapes, different sizes, different colors
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 cup oregano fresh stems; young green stems and leaves but not woody parts
  • 10 basil leaves fresh
  • ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic or more to taste
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes or to taste
  • black pepper freshly ground to taste
  • red onion optional
  • mozzarella cheese optional

Instructions
 

  • In a food processor, combine fresh oregano, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup olive oil, garlic, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Blend until thick.
    1/2 cup oregano, ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar, ¾ cup olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 pinch red pepper flakes, black pepper
  • Wash all tomatoes using a solution of 2 teaspoons baking soda per 1 quart water for 30 seconds. Rinse with fresh cold water, discard any with cracks or blemishes, and dry thoroughly on clean kitchen towels. Slice large tomatoes into ½-inch thick slices, halve cherry tomatoes, and cut others into uneven chunks.
    2 pounds tomatoes
  • Place the tomatoes in a colander and season with 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt. Toss to coat, then let them sit for 20-30 minutes. Rinse gently and thoroughly under cool tap water, then drain on paper towels.
    sea salt
  • Transfer the drained and dried tomatoes into a large bowl. Pour enough oregano dressing to coat them lightly and toss well. Turn marinated tomatoes onto a serving platter, garnish with additional oregano, basil leaves, and optional fresh mozzarella or thinly sliced red onion. Serve remaining dressing on the side.
    10 basil leaves, red onion, mozzarella cheese

Notes

Two Important Tipsfirst, source a mixture of different shapes, different sizes, and different colors. Think heirlooms, Campari’s, cherry tomatoes, and Romas. Second, salt the tomatoes. Do not skip this step. Salting yields intensely flavored tomatoes while drawing out excess moisture. You want the oregano vinaigrette to be the ONLY liquid in your salad bowl.
Storing Leftovers – this salad is best enjoyed the same day it’s assembled. In case you do have leftovers, put them into an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid and store them overnight only. Do not freeze.

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingsCalories: 215kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 1gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gSodium: 9mgPotassium: 319mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1026IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 2mg
Did you love this recipe?Leave a comment and Let me know how it was!

4.85 from 33 votes (30 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for posting this.
    Have made this many times now albeit substituting fresh oregano for a tablespoon of dried and balsamic for the juice of a very small lemon.
    The only downside whilst eating is wishing I had more tomatoes to begin with as I could easliy double this recipe just to feed one! X5 stars

    1. SW, have you ever watched the EARLY DAYS episode where he first made his Mothership salad? The tomatoes he used were positively jewel-like. I too, use dried oregano when I have to, especially the dried flowers if I have it on hand. Honestly, Jamie is my hero and has been for decades. He makes food preparation seem less scary and he influenced me in my decision to blog about recipes very much. x – Jenny

  2. Just love this salad, it will be delicious! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us at Full Plate Thursday, 552 and come back to see us real soon!
    Miz Helen5 stars

    1. ‘Heavenly’ is a fantastic way to describe this tomato salad, Kat. It’s one of those “must try” recipes for sure!

    1. Thanks for visiting NEA, Alex, and thanks for checking out this recipe! Honestly, it’s among my top 5 recipes and if I could thank Jamie Oliver in person for making me love ‘the tomato’ any more than I already do, I would!