Sunday, 17 February 2013

Tomato, Feta and Tarragon Salad with Sumac Dressing

The sun is shining and I am starting to feel a touch of Spring in the air. I have just been to the allotment and have begun to get excited about what to plant this year... I think I had forgotten I had an allotment in truth, I haven’t been for months. I definitely need to be a bit more committed to it this year. I constantly feel like I should be there more often... Little and often is my gardening motto this year... A gardening motto? What I have become?!... 

It was lovely and peaceful and sunny today, with people pottering around tidying their plots. I really enjoy being there, even just for half an hour, it's a little spot of calm and beauty. Ours is looking ok, probably bottom half of the table if there was a league, but certainly not relegation zone. A bit of work on the paths, some digging and a bit of work on the 'wild flower area' (total wilderness of brambles) at the back, should see it right in no time...


I'd forgotten how lovely a crisp sunny winters day is, as it's been grey for as long as I can remember. There's nothing like a spot of sunshine and a slightly lighter night to start you thinking about salads and summer. I served this salad as part of my first ever Supperclub, last summer at Carruthers and Kent wine shop in Gosforth. Upstairs in their tasting room we held a Middle Eastern meal for twenty with matching wines, this dish formed part of the salad course, alongside a Broad Bean, Pomegranate, Radish and Mint salad. 

Last weekend saw a return to the same theme with a Middle Eastern meat free themed Supperclub at Ouse Street Arts Club. I announced tickets a few weeks ago and they sold out in minutes, so I enthusiastically decided to add another night and run it two nights in a row... It was a huge amount of work, but an incredibly enjoyable weekend. Full of filo pastries, harissa dips, lentil koftas, spiced stews, honey vegetables, rosewater stuffed dates and almond milk puddings. There were some great people at both evenings and I had a lovely time meeting them and putting the menu together. I'm planning the next one already...


To start this salad you need some nice tomatoes, choose some that smell strongly of tomatoes, if they smell of nothing, they will taste of nothing, so start sniffing... I chose some cherry tomatoes on the vine that were pretty tasty... Pull them apart with your hands to get a nice rough texture to the salad, each one into 2 or 3 pieces, and lay them onto a plate. Crumble over half a block of creamy feta cheese, about 100g, and very thinly slice a shallot and scatter that over too.


To make the dressing add a teaspoon of sumac to a bowl and pour over 50ml of hot water, leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Then add 100ml of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of caster sugar, a splash of pomegranate molasses, a pinch of salt, some black pepper, the leaves from a sprig of thyme and half a clove of crush garlic. Whisk everything together and leave to get to know each other for 20 minutes. This is far more dressing than you will need, but is good on any salad and keeps for a month or more in a sealed jar in the fridge.

Finally chop some fresh tarragon over top of the salad, about 2 tablespoons full, and then pour over about 50ml of the dressing. The tasty tomatoes and creamy feta are delicious with the sharp, sweet, herby, lemony dressing and rich aniseed tarragon. I'm really looking forward to the start of Spring, more salads and a bit of outdoor dining. I'm perhaps getting carried away as the sun has only just shown its face, but it's a start...


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