Tomato and Herb Salad

 

There’s no getting around it- most tomatoes from English supermarkets are renowned for being devoid of taste. Packed in plastic, flown for miles, sprayed with all sorts of things, and ripened long after they are picked, does not for a sunshine-filled, mouthwatering, zingy, sweet tomato make. Whilst it can be a mission to track down truly seasonal tomatoes- where there’s a will there’s a way, and the difference in deliciousness will be downright worth the hassle.

If you want the pleasure of just-picked tomato, it’s worth giving growing your own a go. They’re easy to grow, and if you don’t feel like growing them from seeds, you can pick up young plants in most garden centers. I grew compact varieties in pots on windowsills long before I had a garden, and although the harvests were tiny, they got me hooked on growing food. Ok. Enough of the virtues of homegrown, local tomatoes. Here’s one of my favourite ways to savour the season- tomatoes and herbs, simple.

Ingredients

Serves 8

  • Approx 1.5 kg of tomatoes
  • 1 large shallot
  • 150 ml of white wine vinegar
  • Small bunch of Parsley
  • Small bunch of Dill
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • Black pepper
  • Sea salt

Method

Slice the tomatoes any which way, place in a colander and sprinkle with sea salt. This will allow some of the excess moisture to be removed stopping your lovely tomatoes going slushy. Thinly slice the shallot, place in a bowl and cover with the white wine vinegar. Leave for 15 minutes, and meanwhile finely chop your herbs. Take the tomatoes from the colander and place on a large platter. Mix the white wine vinegar (which should’ve gone a lovely shade of pin by now from the shallot) with olive oil. Two parts oil to one part vinegar. Grate about half of the zest of the lemon onto the tomatoes, cut the lemon in half and squeeze a little of the juice into your dressing. Mix the dressing well, and add salt to taste. Dress the tomatoes. Sprinkle over the herbs, and then add the pickled shallots. Crack a generous amount of black pepper over the top, and serve.

You could add a salty, fatty cheese like mozzarella to enjoy this as a meal on its own, or toast up a loaf of bread to have it as an informal starter, or serve it as a colourful side salad to a summery main event.

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