Prep Time 5'PT5M
Total Time 7'PT7M
Our light, summery tomato salad recipe combines classic Mediterranean flavours into a delicious light lunch. It also works brilliantly as a starter, or served as a small plate along with other dishes to share with friends.
Inspired by the Mediterranean
Some dishes are best kept simple, to let the quality of the produce really shine through. Our Mediterranean Tomato and Orzo Salad was inspired by the fresh and flavoursome tomatoes of Italy and Spain.
Tomatoes which have grown under a warm sun seem to develop a deep and delicious flavour. They really need very little to help them shine. The trick here is to use very few and very simple ingredients, but of the absolute highest quality.
Our tomato salad is such a simple dish that the quality of the ingredients really makes an enormous difference. This is the time to splash out on good, flaky sea salt, and especially a high quality olive oil.
The tomato takes centre stage
The tomato is the hero of this dish, providing flavour, freshness and texture.
Start with a good punnet of tomatoes from an organic source. If you grow them at home, this is the perfect chance to use your crop.
If you aren’t naturally green-fingered, an independent greengrocer or health food shop will be your best bet in terms of flavour and provenance.
We love to use vine tomatoes, as the extra time spent in contact with the little bit of greenery imparts an almost herby flavour.
If you have ever set foot in a greenhouse where tomatoes are grown, or have leant down to inhale the scent of cherry tomatoes still on the vine, you will recognise the fresh, aromatic scent immediately. Be sure to capture it in your salad.
A tomato and cucumber salad is a classic British summertime dish, and we’ve allowed a little of its influence to sneak in here. Cucumber may not be a strictly canonical addition to the Mediterranean salad, but along with the bright raw pepper it adds freshness and crunch. Both are welcome alongside the juicy tomatoes.
Meanwhile, Kalamata olives, such a classic and powerful Mediterranean flavour, add a deeply savoury layer to the dish.
The supporting act
Our tomato salad recipe is versatile enough to make an appearance as a light lunch or side dish, but the addition of orzo pasta gives it potential as a main meal, too. Simply increase the portion size for a filling, summery dinner.
Any Italian chef will tell you that tomatoes love salt, and plenty of it. However, we can avoid the addition of too much of it by including capers and brightly acidic fresh lemon juice.
Lemon works just as well at drawing out the flavour of the tomato, while allowing us to reduce the salt down to a mere 1/4 tsp for two servings. A little hint of black pepper adds balance and the tiniest hint of spice.
Use a good, extra-virgin olive oil
The real gem of the dressing, and another classic pairing for rich red tomatoes, is olive oil. It’s the heart of the dish, drawing all the flavours together and imparting a smooth, peppery flavour of its own.
Use extra-virgin. Unlike ‘normal’ olive oil, it’s intended to be used cold rather than in cooking, so that you can appreciate all the complexity of flavour. True olive oil experts treat this golden liquid like wine; each olive varietal and terroir produce totally different flavours.
Many olive oils on the market are a combination of oils from all around the world, which can produce a slightly muddled flavour.
To really experience olive oil at its finest, go for an Extra Virgin Olive Oil from a single estate. The olives have all been grown in the same place, under the same conditions, and their unique flavours are really distinctive in the resulting oil.
Serving your salad
Here in the UK we tend to think of salads as being served cold, fresh out of the fridge. Mediterranean salads, on the other hand, are often served at room temperature.
With our tomato salad recipe, serving at room temperature is a must. Tomatoes love warmth, and will release more flavour this way.
If you’re making this salad for a crowd, a good tip is to make it an hour or so in advance. That’ll give the vegetables plenty of time to come up to room temperature (assuming they’ve been stored in the fridge), and will also allow the olive oil to infuse with the flavours of tomato and lemon.
Serve with generous hunks of crusty bread - you will want to mop up all the gloriously flavourful juices.Salads and sides
IngredientsFor the salad ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half ½ cup cucumber, sliced ¼ cup yellow pepper, sliced 1 tbsp spring onion, finely chopped ½ cup cooked orzo pasta 1 ½ tbsp capers 2 tbsp kalamata olives 5 mint leaves 5 basil leaves For the dressing ¾ tbsp lemon juice ½ tsp black pepper 1 tbsp and 2 tsp Erbology Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil ¼ tsp sea salt
For the salad