Tomatoes shout summer – I have always adored them and get thoroughly excited when the first properly tasty ones arrive in the shops around this time of year. Being an utterly hopeless tomato grower – 3 years on the trot with little to show for my hard work but a larder full of green tomato chutney, has taught me to respect this bold, punchy little fruit. Firstly, they make you happy, they contain serotonin and vitamin C – that has to be good. Secondly they come in all shapes and sizes and often the most extraordinary colors. Thirdly, if good, you really don’t have to do much to create a sublime salad – pretty, tasty, seasonal and healthy – see below.
Heritage / heirloom tomatoes are worth forking out the extra pennies for. These tend to be found at Farmers Markets or at a one-off green grocer, such as the remarkably good ‘Andreas’ who has recently opened on Chelsea Green. That said the supermarkets have definitely upped their game – the watery anaemic tomatoes still exist but only in the shadows of the countless other options available. Isle of Wight tomatoes are also divine, particularly the ones from ‘The Tomato Stall’, frequently seen at Farmers Markets in London, you can also buy them all over the island even in the Bembridge Co-op!! So no excuses, they are around, they are abundant and they are delicious. Last rant – just don’t store them in the fridge – it kills their flavour!
The Easiest Tomato and Beetroot Salad
1 bunch of red beetroot (or golden or both as in picture above)
250g of mixed heirloom tomatoes or just very good vine ripened cherry tomatoes
Seasonal leaves, rocket, watercress, baby mustard leaf, marjoram
200g Fresh ricotta or fresh goats cheese (Windrush goats cheese is particularly good)
Olive oil, salt and pepper, splash of Balsamic vinegar
This hardly warrants a description but for those in fear of the kitchen here goes:
Cook the beetroot – either in a pan of water until tender or roast it in the oven. Cut into sensible bite size chunks. Toss with olive oil salt and pepper.
Halve or quarter the tomatoes and mix with the cut beetroot, mixed leaves, crumble the cheese on top and dress with a little more oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar, good grind of black pepper and pinch of Maldon sea salt and hey presto the easiest salad ever!