Tomatoes and chervil

A Teutonic friend of mine insists there’s basically no point eating tomatoes in the UK because everything we get, home grown or otherwise, is ohne GeschmackI think that’s a bit harsh. Of course there are too many flavourless red orbs in circulation throughout the year. But around this time of year there’s the odd tasty fella too. It’d be a shame to miss on those completely.

I certainly haven’t been missing out in the last week or so. In fact I reckon I’m about thirty per cent tomato at the moment.

This is mostly because there seems to have been a particularly good scent to the tomatoes in my local greengrocers – you know the kind of smell you get from a metre away, making it impossible not to stroke them … which releases more perfume … so you stroke and sniff some more? No? Just me? Well, anyway, that scent’s been there and it’s caused me to buy lots. Some have been English, some French, a few Italian. They’ve covered the full range of tomato colours, and they’ve been good enough for me.

There’s only so much tomato and basil a man can take, though.

In a fit of desperation I mixed things up a bit and dropped in a few lacy chervil leaves and a sprinkle of chopped parsley, along with the usual glug of Extra Virgin and liberal chuck of sea salt. It was super. I’m not sure if it’s an unusual combination or a well worn one. But I thought it one worth recommending.

It would be wrong to write anything resembling a recipe for a tomato salad. Though here are a few further observations.

  • Choose tomatoes that smell tomatoey. That way you can be certain they’ll taste good too.
  • Keep them outside the fridge. In sunlight if you can.
  • I like to use 3-5 different types of tomatoes in the same salad.
  • Those tomatoes are generally portioned up differently – to keep the salad varied.
  • But those portions end up roughly the same size, so it’s enjoyable to eat. Cherries are whole or halved, medium tomatoes quarters, larger ones sliced or cut into chunks.
  • I love the sharp tang of a green tomato. Cut them into small eighths or thin slices though; they’re almost a herb or seasoning in themselves.
  • Sea salt and olive oil room temperature tomatoes at least ten minutes before you eat.
  • Basil’s great, but try other herbs too.
  • Chervil sits somewhere between tarragon and flat leaf parsley on the herb flavourometer – there’s mild, slightly sweet aniseed, as well as a certain grassy-ness. I like it. Give that a go.
  • I also like black olives and anchovies for an extra hit of salt.