When the warmer weather ushers tomatoes into the market, I start to make almost endless versions of simple salads that celebrate the glory of that most amazing of fruits. This is the newest of them. It is entirely pointless – and a waste of the other ingredients – to make this salad with lesser specimens. If you can't find ripe, flavoursome tomatoes, leave those supermarket tomatoes that seem impervious to the changing of the seasons untouched. If you have to wait, then wait.
4 large ripe heirloom tomatoes
8 small cherry tomatoes
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 large ball buffalo mozzarella
10 basil leaves
10 tiny pickled cocktail onions
4 pickled guindilla peppers, sliced or whole*
thickly sliced sourdough bread, to serve
1 garlic clove, peeled
1. Core the largest, ripest tomato and score a cross in the skin at the base. Blanch in boiling water for 1 minute, then plunge into iced water.
2. Once cooled, slip the skin off and dice the tomato finely, then add to a bowl along with the whole cherry tomatoes (halve them if larger). Add the oil and vinegar, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and combine.
3. Slice two of the remaining tomatoes 2cm thick, then cut the last one into six wedges. Arrange on a platter.
4. Tear the mozzarella into about five pieces and strew over the tomato, then season with salt and pepper. Top with half the basil, then spoon over the tomato dressing. Scatter over the onions, peppers and remaining basil.
5. Meanwhile, char the bread in a griddle pan or toast very well, rub with garlic, then drizzle with some extra oil and serve with the salad.
*Guindilla peppers are available preserved in brine from specialty stores and some supermarkets (they are not always denoted by type, but are long and spindly and green to yellow in colour).