Tomatoes aren’t fully in season in France until July, but that can extend into September if the weather stays warm.
An Easy Starter Recipe for a Summer Meal:
Simple French meals often begin with a light Starter dish made of raw vegetables, especially in the warmer summer months. I think beginning your meal with a light raw vegetable dish, separate from the main course, is one way the French stay slim and yet enjoy such great food.
Beginning a meal with a raw vegetable slows you down and helps you feel full and satisfied at the end of the meal. You won’t tend to eat as quickly as when everything is piled onto one plate.
The recipe below is one I heard a 3 star Michelin French chef mention years ago during an interview. Yet I haven’t found it in a recipe book since then. Luckily, I’d quickly written it down at the time (on the back of an envelope!) and still use it today as a go-to easy Starter in summer.
This simple tomato salad has only 2 ingredients! The vinaigrette requires only 3 ingredients (plus salt & pepper).
Two of the vinaigrette’s ingredients are from my French Pantry Checklist. So if you haven’t downloaded that yet, please do! You’ll find the ingredients will help you add a French twist to basic recipes that will easily up-level your home cooking.
Tomato and Mint Salad with Raspberry and Vanilla Vinaigrette
- 4 Tomatoes (Roma, Heirloom or another varietal for salads)
- 4 Branches of fresh mint (enough for 4-5 leaves per person)
- 6 TB of Olive Oil
- 3 TB of Red Wine Raspberry Vinegar
- 1/8 tsp of Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Powder (“Tahiti Vanille” is my favorite supplier)
- Salt & pepper to taste
I serve this as a plated Starter course, not tossed in a salad bowl. You can also serve the vinaigrette separately, letting each person add the amount they prefer.
-Prepare 4 Starter plates for serving
-Rinse and slice tomatoes in half then in thin quarters so as to be able to arrange later in a fan-like circle on each plate
-Start with the vinaigrette: place 3 TB of Red Wine Raspberry Vinaigrette in a small mixing bowl
-Stir in the vanilla extract or powder until well mixed
-Whisk in the olive oil
-Add salt & pepper to taste
-Place about 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette in each Starter plate and spread around the plate with the back of a spoon.
-Arrange tomato slices splayed in a fan-like circle on each plate on top of the vinaigrette
-Sprinkle each plate with chopped fresh mint leaves (about 5 leaves per person) and serve
The French chef who spoke of this easy tomato salad recipe also added black olive paste or “tapenade
This is a wonderful mixture of flavors that will wow your friends and family. It’ll also save you from the boredom that comes with making the same old recipes on repeat.
The vanilla in the vinaigrette adds a mysterious flavor twist to the tomatoes without being overwhelming. (see my Carrot Salad Recipe for another version of a vanilla vinaigrette)
Whenever I serve this to friends for the first time, I like to ask them to tell me the ingredients in the vinaigrette. While some have noticed the raspberry vinegar, they haven’t as yet guessed the presence of vanilla.
So no one will ask “What’s vanilla doing in my tomato salad?”
See me make this recipe from start to finish on my IGTV channel (@nancyconwayparis).
And now you: Do you have some easy salad recipes with unusual ingredients in them? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com