By Ali Sagle
You need only salt and fat to turn a perfect tomato into a perfect tomato salad because tomatoes are a great source of sweetness and acidity all on their own. But tomatoes aren’t always perfect.
Even the most beautiful ones can be watery, seedy or otherwise unfortunate inside (a good life lesson!) Moreover, there are many forms of salt, acid and textures to consider, to play off the fruit’s juiciness. And sometimes, no matter how perfect a salad, we just want to mess around.
Before we freestyle, know there’s one non-negotiable: For a tomato to shine, no matter how ripe, it needs salt. Cut the tomatoes in any way that moves you, then put them in a bowl and gently sprinkle them with salt (sugar, too, if they really need help).
Tomato and stone fruit salad with seeds (Serves 4)
Tomato and stone fruit salad with seeds. Picture: Tom McCorkle, The Washington Post.
Fresh, sweet fruit – stone fruit, but also tomatoes – meet a deeply spiced oil. The method of blooming aromatics in warm oil and then pouring it over a final dish is a South Asian technique with many names, including tadka and chhonk. It can be modified with whatever appeals in your spicy pantry.
Leftover salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
2 large heirloom tomatoes (about 680g total), cored and cut into 1cm wedges
4 medium peaches, nectarines, or apricots (about 450g), halved, pitted, and cut into 1cm wedges
1 tsp kosher or flaky sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste
On a serving plate, toss the tomatoes and peaches with 1 tsp salt.
In a small pan or saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the oil, turmeric, cumin, sesame seeds and black pepper. Cook, swirling the pan, until gently sizzling, 3 to 5 minutes.
Pour the spiced oil over the fruit and season to taste with salt and pepper.