Seeing as how it’s Switzerland’s national day today (August 1st), I thought I’d choose something red to write about … and seeing as how I’m currently back home on Inishbofin and my father’s polytunnel is positively bursting with tomatoes, I figured tomatoes it would be.
It’s a sight to behold – plant after plant, truss upon truss, laden with these vibrantly coloured strings of pearls. Green, yellow, orange and red. All racing to be the first to ripen. And that unmistakable scent of homegrown tomatoes. Heaven!
While making my way down the polytunnel, I sneak the odd one … in the interests of research, I’ll have you know. Most are of the cherry-sized variety and lend themselves particularly well to being snuck. A gentle tug, pop – and in they go! I discover that the orangey ones are particularly sumptuous. An explosion of flavour in the mouth. Better than sweets. And fewer calories, too! When I get caught red-handed, I am informed that these golden gems are called ‘Sungold’. Lovely name.
He’s very particular, my father, about when and how to pick his tomatoes. So particular, in fact, that he and only he may pick them. I promptly get a lesson in tomato-squeezing. Only when there is a certain ‘give’ in the tomato, may it be plucked gently from the vine. And what’s more, I am told, “the tomato must not be reluctant to leave the vine”. So there!
It would be a crying shame to cook the tomatoes we had just plucked. Instead, we opt for a simple salad to accompany our (freshly caught) fish for dinner tonight and serve it with my father’s all-time favourite dressing – a ginger and soy vinaigrette. Zingy, tangy, sweet – all in one mouthful. What more could you ask for? (A glass of chilled white wine, anyone?!)
Zingy ginger & soy dressing
Makes: 250 ml
Preparation time: 10 minutes
- 170 ml rapeseed or sunflower oil (olive oil would be too strong)
- 2.5 cm ginger, grated or finely chopped (see tip below)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons (dark) soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- fresh pepper
– Start by crushing the garlic and grating the ginger (I use the microplane for the ginger). Put these into a screw-top jar.
– Add the oil, lemon juice, soy sauce and a pinch of pepper, put on the lid and shake well.
– The easiest way to deal with ginger, I find, is if it’s frozen. I always keep a large chunk in my freezer. It chops and grates really well.
– Also, the best way to de-skin the ginger is with the tip of a teaspoon. Just scrape the skin off. This works on both fresh and frozen.
– The saltiness of the soy sauce means there is no need for extra salt. Should you use a low-salt soy sauce, though, you may find the dressing needs a little salt.