Take a good long look at this dish of tomatoes. Does it look like a salad to you? No? More like a juicy sauce, perhaps? A mass of crumpled tomato flesh? It doesn't gleam with distinct edges the way a fresh tomato salad usually does, I admit, but nevertheless this is a tomato salad to be reckoned with. Now that I have tasted this one, it will be hard to go back to any other.
This salad is via Nigella Lawson, and she discovered it in what she calls a 'a memoir with recipes' by Colette Rossant. Rossant's book is a memoir of her early life in Egypt, hence the "Egyptian" in tomato salad.
• Find Rossant's book: Apricots on the Nile: A Memoir with Recipes, $9.62 at Amazon
And as usual, Nigella's taste in spotting something delicious is impeccable. This recipe has everything you want in a tomato salad: Rivulets of juice that take over your plate, melting tomato flesh that dissolves in your mouth. But it also calls for one unusual step, for a salad: Blanching the tomatoes.
Yes, that is why the tomatoes look so mushy on the plate: They have been separated from their skins. This is actually quite easy: Just pour boiling water over a bowl of fresh tomatoes, and let them stand for a little while. Then slip them out of their jackets, which peel right off. (Also see another method for peeling tomatoes here.)
Then soak the sliced naked tomatoes in a marinade of olive oil, minced shallots and garlic. When ready to serve, sprinkle with salt, fresh basil, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
If your taste runs to juicy, aromatic tomato dishes, this is for you. Like I said, the tomatoes melt in your mouth, their juice infused with the shallots and garlic. This is a salad that is a little rustic in its presentation, but extra elegant in its flavor and texture. It could also work well as a raw pasta sauce; lay a spoonful of this over warm couscous or pasta and it's a meal all its own.
Try this one, while the tomatoes are still with us!
• Get the recipe: Egyptian Tomato Salad from Nigella Lawson
Have you ever tried this salad?
(Images: Faith Durand)