Friday, August 10, 2012

A season for tomatoes

Not a day goes by without me eating salad. It is always present on my dinner table, to accompany and complement the main dish or, at times, simply served as the main meal.

During the winter months, it's usually a green salad with thinly sliced apples or pears, pecans or hazelnuts and a pungent vinaigrette, paired with a blue cheese or a hard, Greek kefalotyri.

In the summer, though, everything changes. Tomatoes are in season. The most glorious, sweet fruit known to mankind. A fruit that's so frequently mistaken for a vegetable.

All kinds of tomatoes are used in my kitchen throughout the hot months of summer, not only in salads, but in meat sauces, shrimp saganaki, gemista (Greek stuffed tomatoes and peppers), bulgur pilafs and my scrumptious pizza sauce, which I have to share with you someday.

Roma tomatoes, beefsteak, heirloom, cherry, vine-ripened, you name it. My trips to the market invariably end up with me dragging my feet from the weight of the large bags filled with the red, summer fruit and it is worth it every single time.

This dish came about from my need to consume yet another tomato salad. I wanted to change things up from my usual and beloved Horiatiki (Greek) salad, and wanted to use up some mint I had bought for dolmadakia (Greek stuffed vine leaves) that I made a few days ago. I never throw anything away, I've told you that, right?

Mint and tomatoes are a delectable combination and mint oil is my new favorite thing to make. Olive oil, fresh mint and salt; that is all that's needed to create the most aromatic and flavorful concoction that can be used to dress a juicy barbequed steak, a piece of grilled fish and of course, this bright tomato salad.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Mint Oil, Feta and Kalamata Olives

I can't live without feta so its addition to the salad was inevitable and of course the briny olives completed the picture. Feel free to use any other type of soft goat's cheese you prefer.

Yield: 2 lunch / 4 salad servings

Small heirloom tomatoes, about 400 g, or any other kind of tomatoes you enjoy
A large piece of feta
9-10 Kalamata olives, pitted if you wish

for the mint oil
A large bunch of fresh mint , about 15 g
150 ml extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of salt

Tiny mint leaves, for garnishing

Special equipment: small food processor


for the mint oil
Pick the leaves from the mint and discard the stalks. Place the mint leaves in a small food processor and add the olive oil. Process until smooth and add the salt.

Slice the tomatoes in half, and if using larger tomatoes, cut them into wedges. Arrange them on a large plate, crumble the feta on top and scatter around the olives. Spoon over as much of the mint oil as you wish and garnish the salad with some tiny mint leaves.
Serve immediately with some good crusty bread and a chilled bottle of dry white wine or alongside your main dish.

You can keep the mint oil in the fridge for a couple of days.


  1. Great pics and delicious salad. I had a Greek salad for dinner tonight!!, I wanted something quick and delicious so I remembered your post for the Greek salad months ago! I got kalamata olives and even spent an extra pounds to get the Greek olive oil. It was totally worth it. But I must say, in Portugal where I am from, we also have amazing olive oils! But due to god knows what, Greek olive oil is more widely spread. I am looking forward to go to the market this Sunday to stock up on all those types is tomatoes.I hope they have them, but I suspect the tomatoes from holland are better than the ones from the UK.

  2. oh, this looks so good. and please, please post about how you make pizza sauce! summer tomatoes are the best excuse for homemade pizza ... not that I need one. :)

  3. Inesa — I want to visit Portugal so bad! I know it's a beautiful country. I've never tried Portuguese olive oil but I'd love to, if I can find it. Yes, in Holland the tomatoes are good, but in Greece they are better :)

    Anonymous — oh, I don't need an excuse for homemade pizza either! I hope I get to post about the sauce soon enough.

  4. So beautiful and so light - and I have never paired tomatoes with mint! This sounds amazing - and I can't wait for the pizza sauce. I am just getting to the point where I wast to make a homemade pizza... ~ David

  5. Very tempting Magda! Beautiful tomatoes.
    Our tomato harvest was poor this year.

  6. My tomato garden is delivering so many tomatoes right now and I do use mint with feta and olives but I never thought to make mint oil. I can' wait to try happy to have found your blog today.

  7. Such beautiful photos. I can't wait to try this mint and olive oil dressing. I can't get enough of salad either!

  8. I too eat plenty of salads--but I've never tried mint with tomatoes. Thanks for the great idea!

  9. Never tried tomato salad with mint, but I can only imagine. I must make this happen this summer.

  10. I have tomatoes and mint growing in my garden... I'll be saving this recipe until I have a few ripe tomatoes! Lovely flavours!

  11. A salad of some sort is always present for every meal I prepare as well. Seasonal, fresh, a little crunchy. Tomatoes are the salad of the moment and your version is beautiful and perfect for a hot summer meal.

  12. Delicious words and lunch. A salad should be present at my every meal, but rather like me for sports lessons at school, conspicuously isn't. Need to put this right. Hope you are having a good summer. R