Provençal tomato salad – it’s not actually a ‘real’ Provençal dish, not in the way that pissaladière, aïoli and ratatouille are. But for me this recipe encapsulates the essence of southern France. Ripe-red firm tomatoes, bursting with sunshine. Pungent, juicy rose garlic. Anchovies, salty, rich and deep. It makes me think of rolling purple fields, cicada song at midday, and a wrought iron table set for lunch in the shade of an ancient plane tree.
For me this is not so much a tomato salad as a complete meal. I serve it up with plenty of crusty baguette to mop up the herby savoury dressing – that and a crisp, dry rosé. As I mop up the last morsel I sit back satisfied, smug and feeling just a little bit French. Non, je ne regrette rien.
All you need is…
8 tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 anchovy fillets
4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
¼ tsp dried red chilli flakes
4 tbs small non pareilles capers (Woolworths stocks it)
2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tbs chopped fresh oregano
½ cup roughly chopped flatleaf parsley
1 punnet small tomatoes (350g), chopped any way you like
1 red onion, sliced
lavender flowers (optional)
Use the back of a knife to give the unpeeled garlic cloves a healthy whack to crack open. Finely chop the anchovies. Add the garlic, chilli and anchovies to the olive oil and fry on low heat for a few minutes, stirring until the anchovy has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the capers, herbs and vinegar. Set aside for at least half an hour so the flavours can get to know each other a bit. Toss through the tomatoes and onion and scatter over a few fresh or dried lavender flowers if using. Bon appétit mes amis!