Despite having a head full of dishes, there are some basic things I make all the time: cheese on toast, boiled eggs and tomato salads. I vary them – these days I’m eating boiled eggs, shelled (but still warm), with black bread, spring onions and cottage cheese. Eggs, cheese and tomato salads have been the building blocks of a lifetime of lunches.
Nobody is threatening to take any foods away from me but I quite often think which dishes I would choose if I was only allowed half a dozen to live on.
A tomato salad, in some guise, would certainly be on that list. We love tomatoes in this country, even though we don’t have the ideal conditions in which to grow them. It’s not hot enough to produce the flesh – at once intensely sweet and tart – that makes tomatoes so irresistible.
Tomato and strawberry salad with mint dressing
know this is odd, but I had it in Montreal last summer and loved it. You can have it as dessert, or eat it with burrata (the creaminess of burrata is fantastic with it). You do need lovely sweet tomatoes.
A L’Olivier makes a vinegar with raspberry pulp in it (and it’s good for other summer salads too). It’s stocked by Waitrose (you can get it from Ocado).
- 500g strawberries, hulled
- 325g tomatoes (not too big)
- 15g mint leaves
For the dressing
- 3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 6 tbsp raspberry vinegar (preferably one with raspberry pulp in it)
- 6 tsp caster sugar
Halve or quarter the strawberries, depending on their size. If you are using really small baby tomatoes, just halve them. If you’re using larger ones then quarter them, or even cut each one into six wedges.
Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing, stirring it vigorously to help the sugar dissolve.
Put the strawberries and tomatoes into a broad shallow bowl and add the dressing. Tear the mint leaves and toss them in as well.
This is better if it sits for five minutes before serving, for the flavours to mingle, but don’t leave it any longer than that or the mint wilts and the strawberries go soft.
South-East Asian tomato and mango salad
A very useful recipe. Immediately turns any plain main course – fish, chicken, pork chops – into an eastern meal.
4-6 as a side dish
- 2½ tbsp light-brown sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 red and 1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
- 1 small mango
- 375g tomatoes, halved
- ½ cucumber, chopped into matchsticks
- 3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
- Leaves from small bunch each of mint and basil
- 5g coriander leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped roasted peanuts or ½ tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Make a dressing by stirring the sugar into 2 tbsp boiling water. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, garlic and chilli and leave to infuse.
Peel the mango and slice off the ‘cheeks’ on either side of the stone, then cut into chunks as neatly as possible. Throw the vegetables and fruit into a bowl with the herbs and toss with the dressing. Scatter over the nuts or seeds.
Tomatoes and radishes with buttermilk and dill
I was in Estonia a few summers back and loved what they did with tomatoes, serving them with sweet black bread, radishes, rich cottage cheese and, often, dill. This is a really useful summer salad, very good with salmon, both plain and hot smoked, fish cakes and cheese.
- 350g tomatoes
- 150g fresh, crisp radishes
- Small bunch of dill, roughly chopped
- 2 spring onions, chopped
For the dressing
- 100ml buttermilk
- ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
Cut the tomatoes into slices or wedges. Trim the radishes (keep perky leaves to toss into the salad) and cut into very thin slices. Toss with most of the dill, all the spring onions, any radish leaves and some seasoning in a serving bowl.
Mix everything together for the dressing with some seasoning and spoon it over the top, tossing it in or leaving as you like. Sprinkle over the rest of the dill.