For Beckie, who grew up in Italy, nothing quite beats a sun ripened tomato, she will happily eat plates full of them…
Whereas, I (Christian), growing up in Surrey, was brought up eating watery flavourless supermarket tomatoes….
Fast forward to today and we have some incredible tomato producers here in the UK, including the Tomato Stall on the Isle of Wight and Sussex based Nutbourne tomatoes, who grow an array of speciality tomatoes, sweetened by the sun to create the most delicious tomatoes! A box of mixed heritage tomatoes will give you lots of different colours and shapes of tomato to adorn your platter, with each tomato giving you different levels of sweet and acidic notes and the most wonderful range of flavours.
We treat the tomatoes super simply, quickly licked with a fierce heat, seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and lemon thyme before being dressed with our wild herb oil, dotted with a few ground ivy leaves. This all helps to just lift the flavour of the tomatoes ever so slightly. Charring the tomatoes over the fire will help to give us a deeper tomato flavour with a hint of smoke.
Our charred heritage tomato salad makes for the perfect accompaniment to a wild Italian feast. Serve them up as a course all on their own or as part of a larger feast, we love to see a table so full that you can barely fit your fingers between the plates to lift them. Any leftovers can be piled onto toasted ciabatta, topped with a rich creamy burrata or turned into a rich tomato sauce.
1kg mixed heritage tomatoes (we love either Isle of White or Nutbourne Tomatoes)
15g Borderfields rapeseed oil
Maldon salt and pepper to taste
5 sprigs lemon thyme, leaves picked from stalk
Small handful of ground ivy leaves, washed and dried
40g wild herb oil, our favourite combo is our nettle and ground ivy oil
Remove the tomatoes from their vines and give them a quick wash making sure to dry them really well.
Place a large Kadai grill tray directly onto the embers of your fire and let it get super hot. Using long tongs, carefully place the tomatoes into the grill tray and allow them to char, turning them every now and again so that they colour evenly. Try to do this as quickly as possible so that the tomatoes don’t cook, you want them to be well coloured but still able to hold their shape.
Remove the tomatoes from the grill tray as when they are done, they will all be ready at slightly different times. Allow the tomatoes to cool and then use a very sharp knife to cut the smaller tomatoes in half and the larger tomatoes into either thick slices or wedges.
Drizzle the tomatoes with the rapeseed oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the picked lemon thyme leaves and use your hands to gently turn the tomatoes to coat. Place the tomatoes on a platter and drizzle over any remaining oil and seasoning.
Spoon over nettle and ground ivy oil and dot around the ground ivy leaves to garnish.
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