This is an incredible tomato salad but there are two things to remember if you want to wow your guests with something so simple. The first is that you should try to get a mixture of different, tasty, local (if possible) tomatoes in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Second, the flavor is brought out by salting the tomatoes, so don't skip this bit. Some people get worried about putting this much salt on their food, but the bulk of it will drip off, leaving you with really beautiful, intensely flavored tomatoes.
If you can get hold of some dried flowering oregano then do, as it has the most heavenly flavor. Feel free to use the dried stuff that you get in a little container, but it can taste a bit like sawdust when compared to the fruity, fragrant flavor you get from the flowering variety. Oregano is also great to grow in the garden.
- 2 1/4 pounds mixed ripe tomatoes, different shapes and colors
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A good pinch dried oregano
- Red wine or balsamic vinegar
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
- 1 fresh red chile, seeded and chopped
Depending on the size of your tomatoes, slice some in half, some into quarters and others into uneven chunks. Straightaway this will give you the beginnings of a tomato salad that's really brave and exciting to look at and eat. Put the tomatoes into a colander and season with a good pinch of sea salt.
Give them a toss, season again and give a couple more tosses. The salt won't be drawn into the tomatoes; instead it will draw any excess moisture out, concentrating all the lovely flavors. Leave the tomatoes in the colander on top of a bowl to stand for around 15 minutes, then discard any juice that has come out of them.
Transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl and sprinkle over the oregano. Make a dressing using 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil, the garlic and the chile. Drizzle the tomatoes with enough dressing to coat everything nicely.
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