I’ve never met a tomato salad I did not love. This tomato pomegranate salad is no exception. The Ottolenghi-style tomato salad features refreshing Middle Eastern flavours to complement the sunny sweetness of peak summer tomatoes.
The tomato pomegranate salad is quick and easy – ideal for a no-cook summer lunch or side salad.
Add a ball of burrata and a scattering of toasted pine nuts if you’re feeling lavish. Or simply serve it with a slice of good sourdough to mop up the tomatoey pomegranate juices.
Why you’ll love tomato pomegranate salad
This Middle Eastern-inspired tomato pomegranate salad is beautifully vibrant and flavour-packed.
But there are even more reasons to love this salad recipe:
- Layers of flavour: The combination of sweet pomegranate, juicy tomatoes, tart black lime marinated onions, and fresh basil is an instant crowd-pleaser!
- Customisable: It’s easy to substitute the ingredients you don’t have available. Get creative and add some fresh mint or bell pepper for crunch, or swap out the black limes for sumac and a sprinkle of za’atar.
- Gluten-free and vegan: This salad is naturally gluten-free and vegan, making it a great option for any gathering.
- Easy to make: This showstopper of a salad is also super easy to make.
What are black limes?
Black limes are also called dried limes. And they are just that. Dried Limes.
The limes are blanched and dried for days until dark in colour and light in weight, but loaded with flavour.
If you can’t find black limes in the grocery store, you can make black limes at home. To make the black lime powder, smash black (dried) limes with a heavy object like a skillet, remove any seeds and blitz the limes in a spice grinder.
Or you can substitute sumac and make sumac onions to top the salad by following the black lime onions instructions in the recipe.
Ingredients and substitutes
This salad is easy to make, but some ingredients are less readily available. Luckily they’re easy to substitute. So, customise your tomato salad with what you have available.
- Ground black lime: Black limes bring a supercharged lime flavour to the salad. You can buy them in Middle Eastern grocery stores. Or you can make your own black limes and grind them into black lime powder. But sumac is a near-perfect alternative. Or swap the black lime onions for finely diced shallots macerated in freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Pomegranate molasses: Pomegranate molasses adds a tart sweetness to the dressing. But you can also use vino cotto or balsamic glaze.
- Red wine vinegar: You can also use balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar or a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
- Olive oil: I use good quality extra virgin olive oil. But you can use your favourite salad dressing oil.
- Tomatoes: The stars of the show! Use different sizes and colours of ripe summer tomatoes for a striking salad. But feel free to use your favourite fresh tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes and any heirloom tomatoes work well.
- Pomegranate seeds: I use fresh rubies from a small pomegranate. They’re the perfect seasonal companion for tomatoes.
- Basil leaves: Fresh basil leaves add a bright herbal flavour to the salad. But you can also use fresh mint leaves or a mixture of soft green herbs like fresh oregano leaves, parsley, and dill.
- Salt: I typically use fine sea salt or kosher salt in the dressing. But I also love to sprinkle a finished salad with flaky sea salt.
Even though you can substitute to your heart’s content and still have a gorgeous summer tomato salad with pomegranate seeds, some of these ingredients are worth keeping in your pantry.
Often when a dish feels flat or just not quite right, it lacks acidity. And having interesting acidic ingredients to play with might be just what your pantry needs.
How to make tomato pomegranate salad
Follow these easy steps for a summery side dish with vibrant tomato and pomegranate.
Step 1: Start by preparing the black lime onions
Thinly slice a small red onion into rounds using a mandolin or into half-moon shapes with a sharp knife.
Place the thinly sliced onion in a small bowl with a teaspoon of ground black lime (or sumac), two teaspoons of vinegar and a pinch of salt. Gently massage the black lime into the onions with your hands for 20 minutes to soften and macerate.
Step 2: Make the pomegranate salad dressing
In a small bowl, mix together a teaspoon of pomegranate molasses, a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, three tablespoons of olive oil, and half a teaspoon each of ground black lime and fine salt.
Step 3: Prep the tomato salad
Slice any large tomatoes into discs and cut small tomatoes (like cherry tomatoes) in half.
Place small, cut tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Tear the basil leaves, reserving some for garnish, and add to the bowl.
Add half the pomegranate seeds and all of the dressing. Gently mix everything together.
Step 4: Assemble the salad
Arrange the slices of large tomatoes along the edge of a serving platter or shallow bowl. Sprinkle the tomato slices with flaked sea salt.
Gently tip the small tomato mix into the centre of the bowl. Remove the black lime onions from the vinegar and scatter over the salad.
Top with the remaining pomegranate jewels and basil leaves. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt to taste and serve straight away.
This Middle Eastern tomato salad practically screams “summer vibes!” The glorious mix of vibrant tomatoes and sweet-tart pomegranate is just waiting to shine at your next meal.
You can serve it with practically any dish, but I have a few suggestions to get you started.
Serve it with mezze
The tomato pomegranate salad is perfect as part of a mezze spread with classic Middle Eastern dishes like lemony hummus, baba ganoush, crispy falafel, marinated feta cheese, and pita bread (or an easy no-yeast yoghurt flatbread).
Serve it with a grilled or roasted main dish
This salad pairs beautifully with grilled foods. Try it with grilled lamb skewers, marinated chicken, halloumi cheese, or buttery harissa roasted cauliflower. The fresh burst of pomegranate seeds and the tangy tomatoes offer a refreshing contrast to any rich meal.
Serve it with a vegan main
For a plant-based feast, serve the zesty tomato pomegranate salad alongside shawarma-spiced roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce, a herbed grain salad and crusty white bread.
Serve it with more salads and veg
Serve it on toast
Slather a piece of sourdough toast with whipped ricotta, labneh, or harissa hummus and spoon over a generous serving of your tomato salad for the ultimate tomato toast. Finish it with freshly cracked black pepper. Add boiled eggs and feta cheese for a Mediterranean breakfast.
Let me know how you serve your tomato pomegranate salad in the comments below!
Black lime onions
- 1 baby red onion , or half a normal red onion
- 1 teaspoon ground black lime , or 2 teaspoons sumac
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- pinch salt
Pomegranate salad dressing
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses , or vino cotto
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
Tomato pomegranate salad
- ¾ cup pomegranate seeds
- 1½ pounds tomatoes , ideally a mix of different sizes and colours of ripe summer tomatoes
- 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
- flaked sea salt (optional)
- Thinly slice the onion into rounds using a mandolin. A sharp knife will also do the trick – cut the onion in half first and slice it into thin half-moon shapes.
- Place the onion slices in a small bowl with the rest of the black lime onion ingredients. Mix everything together and gently massage the black lime (or sumac) into the onions with your hands. Leave for 20 minutes to macerate and soften while you assemble the salad.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the pomegranate salad dressing ingredients. Set aside until needed.
- Slice any large tomatoes into discs. Cut small tomatoes (like cherry tomatoes) in half.
- Place the small, cut tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Tear the basil leaves, reserving some for garnish, and add to the bowl. Add half the pomegranate seeds and all of the dressing. Then gently mix it all together.
- To serve, arrange the slices of large tomatoes along the edge of a shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle the tomato slices with flaked sea salt. Gently tip the small tomato mix into the centre of the bowl. Remove the black lime onions from the vinegar and scatter over the salad. Top with the remaining pomegranate jewels and basil leaves. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt to taste and serve straight away.
- For ground black limes, bash black limes with a heavy object and remove the seeds if there are any. Place the pieces in your spice grinder and blitz until fine. See how to make black limes at home for more information.
- There is more information and substitute suggestions in the ingredients section of the blog post.