Instant fresh tomato basil salad
Here’s one you can’t mess up. Cut up a yummy (seeded) large fresh red tomato into small pieces. Mince (chop very fine) about a teaspoon of fresh white onion. Put both in a small mixing bowl. If you like a bit of garlic, mince a very tiny piece. Add a little salt and fresh ground pepper and a generous pinch of dried thyme, but not the kind that looks like ground pepper. Make sure it’s just a pinch because it’s powerful.
Open a tin of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drain them and rinse off the starch.
Add about a quarter of the peas to the tomato bowl (save the rest in a covered container in the fridge… they keep). Now add a couple of tablespoons of your favourite olive oil, a little white Balsamic vinegar (just a spritz – and this recipe works best only with “white” Balsamic – Fortino’s is the best one I have found to date)… and adjust salt to your taste. Toss with a tiny squirt of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Add just a little sprinkle of dried ground Parmesan.
Buy a little jar of artichoke hearts in olive oil. Keep the opened jar in the fridge – it lasts a long time. Take a couple of the artichoke hearts from the oil, and chop loosely and place on side of each salad plate just before serving. Add a teaspoon of the artichoke oil, and a tiny bit of the minced artichokes floating in the oil, to the tomato dish. If you like to cook with spirits, add a tiny splash of your favourite brandy.
Just before serving, finely chop about a half-teaspoon of fresh basil leaves and sprinkle on the salad. Give a quick toss and serve over shredded (horizontally) romaine lettuce leaves, or place on top of Boston Leaf Lettuce. Ideally use the hydroponically grown Boston Bibb lettuce. It really does taste different, and I think, better. Always wash lettuce well, under quite hot running water (yes, you read that right – quite hot water). Shake the lettuce and pat dry. Roll the lettuce up securely in a clean light-weight kitchen towel and store in the fridge in a plastic bag until you are ready to use it. This works really well for romaine lettuce also. The lettuce will be crisp as though you had just picked it from the garden.
Prep time: less than five minutes. Amazingly simple, and DELICIOUS! Try it. You’ll love it. It can be made ahead of time, except for adding the fresh basil. Add the basil just before eating. I serve this salad with havarti sun-dried tomato cheese and Melba toast on a side plate. This salad looks particularly nice served on a black plate.
I love it, and salad doesn’t get better than this. It’s fresh and delicious and your friends and colleagues will beg for more. Remember, first we eat with our eyes. Serves two.
This salad makes a great Sunday morning brunch, served as a first course, followed by seared chicken livers, mushrooms and onions and a sprinkle of dried thyme. Salt and pepper it when cooked. Keep it warm in a chafing dish, served alongside a great cream of roasted multi-coloured pepper soup, and your favourite fresh baked bread. If you would like these additional recipes, send me an email note. They may appear in a later REM column.