Tomato and Bread Salad – Vegan, Vegetarian, and Omnivore Options

Bread and Tomato Salad with heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil

Let’s talk about simple pleasures, aka Tomato and Bread Salad.

Jump to Recipe

I first made this salad six summers ago. I bought the tomatoes at a hilltop farmer’s market somewhere between Ashcroft and Clinton, a 5 hour drive north of my home in Vancouver. The temperature was approaching 100 degrees and we stood underneath the roof sprayers before entering, lingering in the cool mist. I hadn’t expected to find tomatoes that far north, but I also hadn’t expected semi-arid desert weather either and clearly these ripe and beautiful tomatoes had been nurtured under a steady diet of heat and sun.


Arriving home hungry after that long hot road trip, I didn’t have much on hand to make a meal from. But I had those heirloom tomatoes and I knew they were going to be good. Even through the brown paper bag they smelled like warm earth. I picked out the biggest tomato and cut it into four thick slices with my bread knife. Standing at the counter, I ate the slices with a fork, juice pooling on the plate. There was no need for salt or pepper, for anything at all but that tomato, but I knew right then and there that it would be the perfect foundation for a simple salad, and this recipe was born.

This year, I’ve been waiting all summer to see tomatoes of this calibre. Last Saturday, I found them my local farmer’s market, perfectly imperfect, the antithesis of the round and uniformly red ones you find at the grocery store year round. There are red ones, oh yes, but there are also pink ones and deep dark purple ones and orange and yellow ones, too. Some are round, some oblong and smooth-skinned, and some are designed more like avant garde chaise lounges: bulbous and squashy, with skin like shiny tightly-pleated pleather.

Tom Idea2

These are the kind of tomatoes that we are looking for for this recipe. Juicy, substantial, imperfect.

I should make clear that there are a variety of different tomatoes that are considered to be heirloom (or in the UK, heritage), including Brandywine, Beefsteak, and Black Cherry among others.

Yes, You Can Make it Gluten Free!

Also, please note that even though this is called Tomato and Bread Salad, you can do without the bread. If it’s not obvious already, this is a tomato-forward experience, and the gluten-free should not avoid this recipe thinking that the bread-less version will be a sub par experience. It is simply a different, equally delicious one.

Tomato Salad
Tomato Salad

Eating Together Made Easy

The base salad is 100% plant-based, but if you’re a dairy and or/meat eater, you can vary the recipe by adding fresh mozzarella or thickly grated parmesan, and/or crumbled bacon. So whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, carnivore, or reducetarian, not not’s got you covered with this one.

Tomato and Bread Salad with optional bacon and parmesan cheese
Tomato and Bread Salad with optional bacon and parmesan cheese

Enjoy soon! Tomato season is fleeting!

Watch: The Making of Tomato Bread Salad

Here’s a short video about making the salad. Called a “A poignant love story?” by Vanity Fair, Olive Oil won best supporting actress for her understated — some might say, almost static, portrayal — in this short film about a tomato at the peak of its flavour.


Tomato and Bread Salad
Prep Time
15 mins

This Tomato and Bread Salad makes a delicious side or light main. This salad is so simple, it's all about using the best heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and olive oil you can get your hands on. 

Course: Appetizer, main, Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean, North American
Keyword: bread salad, dinner salad, heirloom tomatoes, tomato and bread salad, tomato salad
Diet: omnivore, reducetarian, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4 side salads
Author: Sylvia Eastman
  • 4 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • salt {to taste}
  • 2 cups crusty white bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, or fresh mozzarella or bocconcini
  • 4 slices bacon
  1. If you are using the bread, place the cubes on a baking sheet and toast them for 12-15 minutes at 350F.

  2. If you are using the bacon, you can cook it in the oven at the same time as the bread. Drain and crumble or slice it before adding to the salad.

  3. In a small jar, combine the garlic, olive oil, and salt

  4. In a large bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, the bread {if using} and the basil. Pour the garlic and olive oil mixture over top and then stir everything together gently.

    If you’re adding in the cheese and/or bacon, add them now.

    Taste and add extra olive oil or salt if needed.

Recipe Notes

Use the Best Ingredients You Can Find

For the tomatoes, you are looking for juicy, substantial, imperfect tomatoes, not those pale, perfectly round supermarket ones. They should feel heavy in the hand. In North America these are likely to be heirloom tomatoes, in the UK they are called heritage and include Brandywine, Beefsteak, and Black Cherry among others.

Use fresh basil and the best olive oil you can afford.

Gluten-Free Version

You can simply omit the bread from this salad if you are gluten-free. It will still be delicious.


Got Extra Tomatoes?


Another one of life’s simple pleasures, at least in my book, is a toasted tomato sandwich. You don’t need a recipe for that, but if you’re vegan, here’s a 3 minute recipe to make egg-free mayo perfect for said samie.

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