This salad is one of the simplest and its success relies on using the ripest tomatoes. I have chosen four of the tastiest varieties – they are perfect for salad, each of them sun-ripened, juicy and fleshy. Gastronomy can be simple... when you have wonderful produce!
- 1.2 kg (2 lb 7 oz) heritage tomatoes (marmande, coeur de boeuf, darby striped yellow/green and black russian)
- 1 red or pink onion (rosé de roscoff), cut into 3 mm slices
- 20 basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp finely chopped chives
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
For the salad
- 50 g (1¾ oz) kalamata olives, pitted
- 1 head freckles lettuce (see Note), leaves picked
- 1 head seurat lettuce (see Note), leaves picked
- 1 head lollo rosso lettuce (see Note), leaves picked
- 1 head reine des glaces lettuce (see Note), leaves picked
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to drizzle
- 3 x 120 g (4¼ oz) buffalo mozzarella
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time 10 minutes
For the salad, preheat the oven to 100°C (90°C fan-forced/gas ¼) and dry the olives for 1 hour. Finely chop.
For the tomatoes, using a small paring knife, cut the hard core out of each tomato, then cut each into quarters. Transfer to a large bowl. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir so the seasoning lightly cures the tomatoes, which will then produce a beautiful juice. Mix in the onion, herbs, garlic, vinegar and oil. Stir and leave to marinate for at least 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
At the last moment, mix the lettuce leaves in a large bowl. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, then toss the leaves with the vinegar and olive oil.
Arrange the leaves on a large platter. With a large spoon, lift the tomato mixture onto the salad. Cut the mozzarella in half and scatter around the salad. Sprinkle over the dried olives and finish with a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil.
• Freckles lettuce is a cos-style lettuce with green leaves and red splashes. Seurat is a red butterhead variety. Lollo rosso is a curly headed loose-leaf lettuce with a green base and red leaves. Reine des glaces is a French heirloom iceberg-style lettuce with dark green leaves.
See more from Raymond Blanc in Royal Gardens On A Plate, on SBS and SBS On Demand.