I hated tomatoes as a child. I absolutely refused to eat them no matter what the occasion. But who could blame me when the only tomatoes available were tasteless, anemic looking and served no other purpose then ensuring your sandwich was soggy? Thankfully we now have the luxury of being able to get our hands on properly ripe and naturally sweet tomatoes. In the summer time you can even buy British and Irish grown tomatoes that give their Italian cousins (who have been languishing in the almost year round sun) a run for their money.
I came across these multi coloured beauties at a farmers market, but I have to admit, I found similar, very nice looking heritage tomatoes in a large well-known supermarket. While I far prefer to support markets where you are buying directly from the farmer, this is still good news for those of us who do not have easy access to a good farmers market.
I could bore you with the names of each variety of tomato, but this is not really necessary. All you need are your eyes and your nose. Look out for the most vibrantly coloured tomatoes and then pick them up and smell them. The best (usually Italian) will transport you to a sun-drenched vine with their sweet aroma. If you are lucky enough to happen upon tomatoes like these, buy the lot.
Here I have combined the tomatoes with avocado and red onion, which I have soaked in red wine vinegar. This is a great trick to impart a little bit of acidity, as well as giving the onion a lovely pink colour. Although we have not exactly been blessed with a scorcher of a summer, it is still just warm enough to make me pine for simple, fresh dishes and this salad is exactly that. Perfect on it it’s own as a starter, or as a side for fish. I was recently at the restaurant Rochelle Canteen, where I ate the most beautiful slip sole with heritage tomatoes and aioli. You can see a photo of it on our facebook page www.facebook.com/thegfgourmet If you are in east London this restaurant, peacefully tucked away on the grounds of a school, is well worth a visit.
500g Heritage tomatoes
1 Avocado – stoned, skin removed and sliced lengthways into wedges
1 Medium red onion - sliced thinly
Small bunch of thyme
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the sliced red onion in a bowl and cover with 1 tbsp of the red wine vinegar. Cover and leave it to soak in the fridge for about half an hour.
When you are ready to serve, cut up all the tomatoes into uneven halves and chunks. Arrange them so they all face cut side up and generously season them with sea salt, black pepper, thyme, lemon zest, a good drizzling of olive oil and the remaining tbsp of red wine vinegar. Gently slide them off the board into a nice wide serving dish, making sure to keep all the juices and seasoning. Add in the avocado and sliced red onion and gently with your hands combine it all together. Serve immediately.