There isn’t a classic tomato salad in this book. Not because it’s not worthy; it’s one of the best, most versatile and popular sides there is, and I make it all the time. Rather, you’ve seen tomato, salt, olive oil and basil a million times, and don’t need to see it again here.
This green tomato salad, however, is a legitimate alternative: it’s cooling, refreshing, a little bit sharp and grassy. The salted celery helps season the tomatoes and adds texture, and chervil – in flavour a cross between parsley and tarragon – is a herb we should all use more. At any event, it adheres to the same principles I follow with the traditional red varieties: use the best tomatoes you can get hold of and only when in season; keep and serve tomatoes at room temperature; season liberally with good salt and let them sit for a while before eating. Plus lots of good extra-virgin olive oil.
This side goes with many things, but particularly oily and pink fish and cold cuts of meat. I tend to use green heirloom tomatoes – which are meant to be green – when making it. You could use unripe green tomatoes instead; just be sure to slice them thinly, rather than cut into wedges. If neither are to hand, the salted celery and chervil combination is good with red varieties too.
- Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 green heirloom tomatoes, at room temperature
- A handful of celery leaves, roughly chopped
- 10 chervil Leaves stems
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Slice the celery into 4 or 5 thin lengths about 2 mm wide, then cut across them to create 2 mm dice. Put them in a mixing bowl with the salt. Toss, then leave for about 30 minutes. The salt will extract moisture and season the celery.
- Cut the tomatoes into wedges, chunks and slices (I think a mix of shapes works well here). Layer half of them on a medium serving plate. Spoon half the salted celery over the top, sprinkle with half the celery leaves and chervil, then place the remaining tomatoes over the top and spoon over the remaining celery bits and juice. Finish with the remaining herbs and drizzle over the oil. Let this sit for a further 30 minutes – the salt in the celery will draw out the tomato juices, softening and seasoning them.