Local recipe: Home Grown Heritage Tomato Salad
If Instagram is anything to go by, the world and his wife have had a go at growing their own tomatoes this year thanks to lockdown (me included – with limited success!). So if you’ve suddenly found yourself with an abundance of tomatoes and have already made enough tomato soup and sauces to seen you into 2022 then you’ll love this fresh, seasonal recipe from one of our local farms – South Farm in Cambridgeshire. This recipe is taken from a wonderful recipe book compiled by Jenny Jefferies, the wife of an arable farmer right here in Cambs. For The Love of the Land celebrates the stories and recipes of some of the UK’s finest farmers, including many in our region.
We’ve got five copies of this must-have recipe book to giveaway – check out our Instagram page to enter.
South Farm’s Tomato Salad Recipe
“In the summer months, our many varieties of tomato plant burst with colourful fruit. Some of the most interesting tomatoes we grow are Indigo Beauty, Golden Sunrise, Red and Green Zebra and Giagantomo. Using a mix of varieties and sizes will enhance the visual impact and deliciousness of this salad.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Chilling time: at least 1 hour
- 100ml aged Aceto Balsamico de Modena vinegar (or any other good quality balsamic vinegar)
- 2g agar-agar (a vegetarian alternative to gelatine)
- 1 or 2 of each tomato variety you have (use as many colours, sizes and textures as available)
- 20g smoked Maldon sea salt
- 20 basil leaves
- 50ml aged Aceto Balsamico De Modena glaze
- 250g burrata (or buffalo mozzarella)
- 5g basil cress (or very young basil)
- 5g shiso cress (optional)
- 100ml good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 20ml basil oil
For the balsamic jelly cubes:
Bring the balsamic vinegar to the boil, then stir in the agar-agar using a whisk. Make sure it has all been dissolved. Line a small tray with cling film and pour the balsamic mix into the tray. Leave the jelly to set in the fridge for at least one hour. This can be done a day in advance. Once set, tip the contents of the tray onto a chopping board and dice the jelly into 1cm cubes.
To prepare the tomatoes:
Cut each tomato into different shapes, letting their shape guide you. Don’t go for the same size pieces. Some tomatoes naturally lend themselves to being cut into large chunks, others could be sliced, and some, for example baby plum tomatoes, could be left whole or simply halved. The aim is to have a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and textures. Once you are happy with the mixture of tomatoes, season them with the smoked Maldon sea salt. Tear the basil leaves into pieces using your fingers and add them to the tomatoes. Toss them in the bowl to mix everything together, then cover the bowl with cling film and leave to sit on the side for up to 15 minutes. The salt will season the tomatoes and release their wonderful flavour.
Place four plates in front of you. Dip a pastry brush into the balsamic glaze and spread some in the centre of each plate. Divide the seasoned tomatoes between the plates, making sure that every serving has a variety of shapes and sizes. Tear the burrata or mozzarella into 12 pieces and divide them between the four plates. Add five or six cubes of balsamic jelly to each plate, but if you love balsamic then feel free to add more! Sprinkle the basil cress and shiso over the top then finish the salad with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and basil oil.
The result will be four stunning plates of full of colour and flavour! Our recipe is for a starter, but to make this salad into a main course, follow the steps above but split everything between two large plates instead to serve.”