tomato and fig salad
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Good pairing is an art, as matchmakers very well know (or is it ‘coupling facilitation consultants’ now?). In food, as in marriage, compatibility is important and the superficially similar do not always make the best bedfellows. Whoever first thought of spreading animal fat on baked grain dough was undoubtedly a genius – bread and butter seems natural now but I bet it wasn’t always so.
Tomatoes are like those easy-going types that will get on well with anyone. In fact possibly only chocolate won’t make a good pair with them, and not because they don’t do sweet, ketchup my witness. Chocolate generally doesn’t work with vegetables and fruit that masquerade as vegetables, our hero being one of those. But other than that, you can throw them at various foodstuffs with impunity and they won’t suffer rejection.
This is a particularly well-matched couple: tomatoes and figs. The blue cheese adds a salty touch – otherwise it would be too much of a Mills & Boone book cover. I’ve found the idea in the NY Times Cooking – a comment calls the combination a ‘taste bomb’ and they aren’t wrong.
Of course, like with most salads and especially featuring tomatoes, it’s essential to have them ripe and fresh. The figs I actually prefer firm and not overripe – they have better colour then as well. And I love the way they look, slightly obscene, justly associated with sexuality in many cultures.
tomato and fig salad
- 500g (1 lb) fresh ripe tomatoes, mixed varieties
- 4-5 fresh figs
- 50g (4oz.) blue cheese (Stilton, Roquefort etc.)
- a sprig of thyme, leaves stripped
- For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
1. Slice the larger tomatoes thinly, halve the cherry or plum ones and place them all on a plate. Top and quarter the figs, and scatter them over tomatoes. Sprinkle with thyme leaves. Crumble the blue cheese.
2. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over the salad.