800g tomatoes, any size or colour
1-2 strips wakame
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
a pinch sugar, if required
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon white miso (Urban Hippy is a favourite)
2 tablespoons yuzu oil (I use Lot Eight’s yuzu extra virgin olive oil)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (black, white or a mixture of both)
1-2 sheets nori, finely shredded

Tomato salads are the glory of summer. Most of the time I do very little to them, letting them revel in their own inimitable way. And the secrets of a great salad? It goes without saying that they should be fabulous tomatoes (thank you Curious Croppers for the delightful heirloom varieties you provide). I’m constantly appalled by finding out that people keep tomatoes in the fridge: always leave them at room temperature unless of course you like bland and watery tomatoes.

But if you can’t get these glories, you can nudge less-than- perfect tomatoes with a few simple boosts. Taste them. Are they sweetly perfect? Or too acidic? Would they benefit from a very light sprinkle of sugar or that luscious balsamic glaze you’ve been saving? I think of excellent vinegars and extra virgin olive oils as an investment in uplifting your everyday cooking. Used judiciously they help elevate even the most tired tomatoes. Seasoning is key; with most of my cooking I salt early and aggressively, to draw out the flavours, and to soften and mellow. Yes, I have a variety of salts to hand; an everyday fine salt for pasta water or sauces, and flaky sea salt for salads and finishing. Sometimes I use the saltiness of another ingredient in its place such as soy or fish sauces. If using something with an acrid edge such as red onions, then I will slice them and plunge into iced water to help temper that bitterness. Herbs may be scattered, their delicate leaves giving a hint of perfume or smashed for more intensity. Would some anchovies, pickled jalapeños, capers or olives be appropriate? Do I want a sharp feta or creamy mozzarella? Would some crunch, in the form of toasted nuts or garlicky crumbs, improve the texture? Do I want something more substantial? Would grains like freekeh, quinoa or rice fit the bill?

This leans towards Japanese-inspired tomato salads, perfect with a piece of grilled fish and a bowl of rice. It makes the most of one of my favourite special oils, Lot Eight’s yuzu extra virgin olive oil.

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1.Slice the tomatoes and put onto a platter or bowl.
2.Soak the wakame in warm water for a few minutes to rehydrate then drain, roughly chop and add to the tomatoes.
3.Mix together the rice vinegar, sugar if required, soy sauce, miso and yuzu oil.
4.Drizzle most of the dressing over the tomatoes and set aside for 10 minutes.
5.Sprinkle with sesame seeds, nori and a little extra dressing to serve.

Recipes & food styling Ginny Grant / Photography Tony Nyberg / Styling Fiona Lascelles

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