Za'atar Marinated Tomatoes with fried halloumi, hummus, and grilled pita. This simple marinated tomato salad is inspired by flavors of the Mediterranean and comes together in less than 30 minutes. The perfect summer appetizer or side dish!
Summer is all about simplicity when it comes to salads. Especially when seasonal produce is at its peak and needs little embellishment.
This salad strikes the perfect balance of crisp and creamy, rich and refreshing, and hearty and healthy.
The best part? It’s good for you, too!
If you're unfamiliar with za'atar, it's a Middle Eastern spice blend that typically includes dried herbs, sumac, and sesame seeds. The flavor is floral and delightfully nutty, making it a beautiful complement to sweet summer tomatoes.
How to Make Za'atar Marinated Tomatoes
It's best to let the tomatoes marinate for at least 15 to 20 minutes before assembling the salad. This allows the garlic and spice mixture to really marry with the tomatoes.
This marinated tomato salad is best enjoyed fresh while the cheese and pita are still warm. Pair it with anything hot off the grill - burgers, skewers, or chicken - and enjoy on repeat this summer.
- Tomatoes: I suggest using a mix of heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes for a mix of shapes and textures. Cut the heirloom tomatoes into wedges, and the cherry tomatoes into halves.
- Olive Oil: Use a good quality EVOO here, as it's one of the predominant flavors.
- Rice Vinegar: Look for seasoned rice vinegar, which is mild and lightly sweetened. If using an unseasoned rice vinegar, add a pinch of granulated sugar to the mix.
- Garlic: I prefer to grate the garlic on a microplane, which really infuses the salad is garlicky goodness. Alternatively, just very finely mince it.
- Za’atar: This Middle Eastern spice blend typically includes dried herbs, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds. The flavor is woodsy, floral, and delightfully nutty.
- Hummus: Use either homemade or store-bought hummus in plain or roasted garlic.
- Halloumi: Halloumi is a firm cheese that originated in Cyprus, and is popular throughout the Mediterranean. Halloumi has a high melting point that allows it to be cooked directly on a hot skillet without melting into total oblivion.
- The flavor of halloumi is often described as mild and buttery. Think of a cross between a tamer, less salty feta and mozzarella.
- Pita: I love using naan bread here, however any kind of pita bread will do the job. You can either grill it over a gas range or in a grill pan, or sear in a cast iron skillet.
Step 1: Prepare Marinated Tomato Salad
In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, rice vinegar, garlic, za'atar, and salt; mix well. Add tomatoes and toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 2: Fry Halloumi Cheese
Cut the halloumi into ¼-inch thick slices and pat dry with a paper towel. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high. All the halloumi slices and cook until deeply golden, about 2 minutes per side. Watch closely to avoid burning or melting.
Transfer halloumi to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized cubes.
Step 3: Assemble
Spread hummus on a large plate or serving platter. Spoon marinated tomatoes overtop, and scatter halloumi chunks over tomatoes. Garnish with fresh chopped chives and cracked black pepper. Serve with warm pita or naan bread.
Marinated Tomato Salad - Recipe Variations
- Balsamic Marinated Tomatoes: Swap the rice vinegar for either white or dark balsamic vinegar.
- Marinated Tomatoes and Onions: Very thinly slice about a quarter of a large red onion and add it to the tomato mixture.
- Tomato and Avocado Salad: This salad is especially delicious with buttery avocado chunks! Peel and slice a medium Hass avocado and stir it into the marinated tomatoes right before serving.
- Marinated Tomatoes and Cucumbers: Cut half an English cucumber (or 2 Persian cucumbers) into chunks and stir into tomato mixture.
More Fresh and Healthy Salads:
Za'atar Marinated Tomatoes with Fried halloumi
- Medium skillet
- Mixing bowls
- 1 ½ lbs. mixed tomatoes (I use a combination of heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes)
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar*
- 2 grated garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp. za'atar spice blend
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 1 to 2 tsp. capers (optional)
- 6 oz. halloumi cheese
- 1 to 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
- Plain or roasted garlic hummus (homemade or store-bought)
- Pita or naan bread, grilled or warmed*
- Slice heirloom tomatoes into wedges, and cherry tomatoes into halves. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, rice vinegar, garlic, za'atar, and salt; mix well. Add tomatoes and toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing occassionally.
- Cut the halloumi into ½-inch thick slices and pat dry with a paper towel. Heat 1 to 2 Tbsp. neutral cooking oil in a skillet over medium-high. Once hot, add the halloumi slices and cook until deeply golden, about 2 minutes per side. Watch closely to avoid burning or melting.Transfer halloumi to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized cubes.
- Spread hummus on a large plate or serving platter. Spoon marinated tomatoes and capers overtop, and scatter halloumi chunks over tomatoes. Garnish with fresh chopped chives and cracked black pepper. Serve with warm pita or naan bread.