Tomato Salad with Cilantro Pesto

I never met a tomato I didn’t like. Scratch that. I never met a vine-ripened tomato I didn’t like. Now don’t start rolling your eyes and muttering under your breath. I can hear you, you know and no, I’m not being an elitist snob.

Okay, maybe I am, but so what? Sometimes in life there is a right way to do something and a wrong way. And trust me folks, picking a tomato when it’s green, transporting it halfway around the world and then popping it in the refrigerator is wrong. W-R-O-N-G.

Whoever thought that tomatoes need to be refrigerated anyway? The refrigerator is for bottles of strange chutneys and sauces that you use once and then forget about for 2-3 years. It’s for leftovers that find their way to the very back of the shelf where they gestate until they’re so covered with fuzzy mould that you can’t tell if they were animal, vegetable or mineral. The fridge is not, however, for tomatoes.

Refrigerating tomatoes kills the flavor so don’t do it. Got it?

Tomatoes should smell of sun (yes, I know that technically you can’t smell sun, but bear with me). They should be warm to the touch, firm yet yielding and above all, juicy. Place thick slices between two pieces of white bread that have been liberally slathered with mayonnaise. And don’t forget to generously season them with salt and pepper. Eat and enjoy life as the tomato juices run down you chin.

Yes, it’s messy. Yes, you look like a slob. Yes, you trash that brand new white shirt you bought (what were you thinking of buying a white shirt for heaven’s sake?). But it’s worth it. Just don’t let those precious tomatoes anywhere near the fridge. Promise?

Toasting nuts is not the time to check your emails or put a load of laundry in. Focus, people, focus.

And if you’d like something a smidge more sophisticated, then try our tomato salad recipe.

Tomato Salad with Cilantro Pesto

Serves 4

1 1/2 lbs tomatoes

Small bunch of cilantro, leaves and stems washed and roughly chopped

2 heaping Tbsp pine nuts, plus more for garnishing

1 small clove of garlic, minced

3 oz olive oil

1/8-1/4 tsp Hatch green chile powder

Salt

Chile pequin, to garnish

Place the pine nuts in a small saucepan and toast them for a few minutes over medium heat until nicely browned (Browned people, not burnt. There is a difference). Remove from the pan and allow the pine nuts to cool. Place the cilantro in the bowl of a small food processor along with the minced garlic, Hatch green chile powder, pine nuts and two tablespoons of the olive oil. Blitz until it forms a rough paste. Season with salt and add more chile powder if it needs more heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil if the mixture feels too thick — you should be able to drizzle it over your tomatoes.

Slice your non-refrigerated tomatoes and place them on a plate. Drizzle over the pesto and garnish with more pine nuts and some Chile pequin. Serve and enjoy.

Even better? Add a baguette so you can soak up all those juices!

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