Although I enjoy eating most meat I’m not a fan of veal at all. Leaving aside ethical concerns about how veal is raised and slaughtered, the fact is, I simply don’t enjoy the taste of it. I didn’t realise that saltimbocca is traditionally made with veal until I decided to make it one day, but after doing some research online I thankfully discovered that a lot of professional chefs believe that saltimbocca is actually far tastier when made with pork escalopes instead.
Although I appreciate most ingredients, be they animal, vegetable or mineral, vegetables in particular often really sing with vibrancy and life. There’s something about a fresh, perfectly ripe tomato that’s just been plucked and stolen from its vine that begs for it to be treated with more respect than just chucking it in a ragù to be pulped down into a formless sauce to coat pasta with. So, when I saw the ruby-hued offerings my local greengrocer was selling the other day I couldn’t resist grabbing a generous handful to make a tomato and basil salad.
A good tomato and basil salad is not just about mixing the two components together in a bowl; it needs salty, peppery seasoning, luscious forest green olive oil and the sharpness of a deep balsamic vinegar. All of these additions help the true savoury sweetness of the tomatoes to shine through and leads to a real celebration of the summer crop.
I’ve known some people who insist on sprinkling a small amount of sugar over their tomato salads because they say it enhances the natural sweetness of the fruit, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I do insist on using a little bit of salt and pepper though. This really does make a difference to your tomato and basil salad, but like all cooking, it depends on your own tastes. Also, assuming you don’t have problems digesting dairy, you could add slices of fresh mozzarella to the salad because it’s a low FODMAP cheese at a generous portion of up to 60g per person.
200g very ripe common tomatoes (at room temperature)
30g young basil leaves
Salt and pepper
2 tbsps good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
Slice your tomatoes and lie them on a plate.
Grind some salt and pepper over them (to taste).
Sprinkle olive oil over the tomatoes, followed by a drizzle of balsamic.
Scatter the basil leaves over the tomatoes and add mozzarella if you like.