Maybe it's because I recently turned 30, but I've suddenly noticed a heightened interest in the status of homegrown vegetables. Every year, my dad's greenhouse has sat at the bottom of the garden, collecting sunbeams and waiting patiently until late August to burst forth with its summer harvest, and every year I've strolled past with little more than a sidewards glance at its plush red offerings. Everyone grows tomatoes. The pumpkin patch, however, with its endless offering of spotted gourds and alien forms like washed up sea creatures, always provided more intrigue. Until recently, that is.
In early September after visiting home for a friend's wedding, we stepped inside the glass doors with a large cardboard box ready for pickings. Naively, I imagined we'd fill half a box, at most. 20 minutes later, the harvest had overflowed into a carrier bag: heirloom green tomatoes, Cherokee Purples, tender red Better Boys, pleated Santorinis and bright orange 'Sungold' cherries. I may sound like I've known those names all along, but actually I googled 'tomatoes you can grow in Ireland' and identified them with my naked eye. Just as clever.
We took them back to Dublin on the bus, with only a few fatalities, and got to work.
Basil and Nectarine Summer Salad
Imagine the most fragrant summer starter you can, and then double the flavour: et voila, you have our nectarine and basil tomato summer salad recipe. Afterwards, we agreed that we didn't necessarily need the sweetness of the nectarine to balance the potentially tart tomato - the only tart in the kitchen that day was Michael - but the nectarine is offset deliciously by the herbal basil which makes for a superbly summery treat. Just look at it! Ooh la la.
SERVES 4 - 6
500G mixed homegrown tomatoes (a mixture of different kinds, if possible, perfectly ripened)
2 x ripe nectarines cut into thin wedges
1 x pack fresh basil
Scattering of salt flakes
Feta or vegan feta, to crumble
For the dressing :
4 x shallots, thinly sliced
A tablespoon of sherry vinegar
3 x limes
Sprinkle of salt & pepper
What you do:
Chop the tomato into thick wedges and add to a large salad bowl with the wedges of nectarine
Loosely shred a handful of fresh basil leaves into the bowl
Scatter some salt flakes, mix and leave aside
In a frying pan, flash fry your chopped shallots until brown and crisped. Carefully remove, retaining the oil, and add to the salad bowl
Pour the oil into a jug or ramekin, and add the juice of your limes
Add 1 - 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, mix well and taste
Pour over your salad, mix, and eat immediately. If you're so inclined, crumble some feta or vegan feta on top to serve, or use fresh sourdough to dip-and-mop as needed.
THIS WEEK'S WISHLIST, INSPIRED BY HER MAJESTY, THE TOMATO
Take your tomato game up a notch with our sweet feast-inspired treats of the week.
'Gardener' Candle by Boy Smells, with notes of tomato vine with orange peel, oakmoss, cedar, and, intriguingly, dirt
The Boyfriend Linen Shirt by With Nothing Underneath in Cardinal Red
'Tomato' Cookbook by Claire Johnson
Skirted SEVEN Chair in 'Brique' by Trove by Studio Duggan
Ceramic Salad Bowl by Dan Jamieson