This easy tomato salad is made with heirloom tomatoes, creamy blue cheese, a sweet + tangy sherry vinaigrette and topped with a mound of crispy fried shallots.
There's a restaurant in Margate, NJ called Steve and Cookies that has a famous dish called the Ugly Tomato Salad. We get there at least once every summer to have it, but when my garden is overflowing with tomatoes and the restaurant is overflowing with tourists, I make it at home instead.
Why this recipe works
- The combination of juicy, sweet summer tomatoes, tangy blue cheese, fresh basil and crunchy fried shallots has the perfect balance of flavors and textures.
- The sweet-tart Sherry vinaigrette brings out the flavor of the tomatoes and pairs beautifully with the creamy blue cheese.
- The crispy friend shallots are a little bit extra but really make this tomato salad unlike any other you've had before!
- Tomatoes - This salad is only to be made when you can get your hands on fresh, in-season, great tasting tomatoes. I love making this with locally grown Jersey heirloom tomatoes, and even better if they come from my own garden. The more different types of tomatoes you can use in your salad, the better it will taste. This includes cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, yellow, green and purple tomatoes!
- Fresh Basil - It HAS to be fresh. You just won't get the same flavor with dried basil.
- Shallots - Shallots are similar to onions, but are smaller and have a sweeter, sharper flavor. They're used in this recipe for both the vinaigrette and the fried shallot topping. You can substitute an onion if need be, but try to use shallots if possible.
- Sherry Vinegar - This is used in the dressing to give the salad a really unique and lovely flavor. Sherry vinegar is similar to balsamic, but not quite as dark or sweet. The vinaigrette will taste best with a good quality Sherry vinegar, but if you don't have any you can substitute red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or a combination of the two.
- Blue Cheese - Make sure you use a high quality blue cheese for this recipe such as Maytag, Roquefort, Stilton or Gorgonzola. The better the cheese, the better the salad.
Step by step instructions
Make the Fried Shallots:
- Combine the shallots with buttermilk, salt, and pepper, then set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, corn starch, salt, and pepper.
- Fill a medium pot with oil about 1 inch up the sides, then place over medium-high heat.
- Drain the shallots well, then working in batches, add them to the flour mixture and toss them around so that every piece is separated and coated with flour. Remove them from the flour, place them into a strainer and shake off as much excess flour as possible.
- Test the oil by sprinkling a little bit of flour in it. The flour should immediately sizzle and start to brown, but not burn. If using a thermometer, it should read between 350-375 degrees.
- Carefully drop the shallots into the hot oil. Move them around for a few minutes, flipping if necessary, until golden brown.
- Remove fried shallots with a spider or slotted spoon, then place them on paper towels to drain.
Assemble the Salad:
- Whisk together minced shallots, honey, Sherry vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl, then slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.
- Arrange tomatoes on a large platter, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, then pour dressing over.
- Crumble the blue cheese on top and sprinkle with basil.
- Top with a mound of fried shallots and serve immediately.
Tips for success
- Ingredients matter. For this recipe in particular, the better the ingredients you use, the better it will taste. This means fresh, ripe, in-season tomatoes, fresh basil, and good quality oil, vinegar and blue cheese.
- Do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator. Always keep them on the counter at room temperature. If your tomatoes are starting to get over-ripe and you're not ready to use them, you can always put them in the refrigerator and use them to make a sauce or in another cooked application. For a tomato salad, never use refrigerated tomatoes.
- Use a variety of different heirloom tomatoes in different shapes, sizes and colors for the best looking and tasting salad. Heirloom tomatoes all have different textures and flavors, so using a variety will add lots of interest.
- Keep fried shallots in an airtight container with a paper towel to absorb moisture, at room temperature, for up to 2 days. Recrisp in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes before serving.
- The fried shallots are by far the most time consuming and labor intensive part of this recipe. You can skip them and use store bought French fried onions in a pinch, or omit them altogether an add some chives or other herbs to add a little bit more flavor. It won't have quite the same texture, but it will still be delicious with a fraction of the work.
Faq about Heirloom Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese and Fried Shallots
Absolutely. Goat cheese, feta, or even a sharp, aged cheddar would all be nice. You could even leave the cheese off altogether and it would still taste amazing.
Absolutely! I recommend doubling or even tripling the shallots. Put them on a burger, on top of Mac and cheese, on green bean casserole, or just have them as a snack!
Did you make this recipe and LOVE it? Please leave a star ⭐️ rating and/or comment to help other readers. I absolutely love hearing from you and do my best to answer all questions and comments. I love seeing when you make my recipes, so please tag me @ColeyCooks on Instagram and I will repost!Print