One of the things I love about living in Toronto is how amazingly mutli-ethnic it is here. Food-wise, if it exists, you can buy it somewhere in the city. I also love living in a part of town where one hears, on a daily basis, English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Tagalog and Italian, plus a whole symphony of other languages that appear from time to time. One of my favourite grocery stores nearby is a little independent place, run by an Italian family. Most of the people who shop there, and half the people who work there, are Italian, and it’s as common to hear conversations in that language as in English. If you want olive oil, that’s the place to go. There is an entire aisle dedicated to olive oil!
They also carry wonderful produce. Last week, I was wandering through to pick up the things on my list when I saw a small tub of the most gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. Green, orange, yellow, red, mottled, sitting there, crying out for me to buy them and take them home. Far be it for me to ignore tomatoes. I also picked up a pint of plump, ripe cherry tomatoes, and an idea began to germinate in my head.
Inspired by a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi in his marvelous cookbook Plenty, I set to work on my own creation. The result: a tasty, tangy, sweet and juicy pile of tomatoes, raw and roasted, in couscous and balsamic vinegar. Here is my Tomato Frenzy Salad.
Tomato Frenzy Salad
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- sprinkle of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 425F. Combine these ingredients and roast the tomatoes on a baking tray for about 25 minutes, until beginning to brown. Remove from heat and let cool. You can turn off the oven now. You don’t need it anymore.
- 3/4 cup raw Israeli couscous
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup water
Cook the couscous according to package directions. The package may call for slightly more or less water than this, but this proportion worked for me. When the couscous is done, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add a glop of oil and gently stir the couscous with a fork to separate the beads. Let cool.
- 1 pint whatever tomatoes make you go “Oh!” I used a combination of small heirlooms, in different colours.
- 2 TBSP fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- salt to taste
Carefully stir the various tomatoes into the couscous, along with the oil, vinegar, basil and salt. Adjust flavours to suit your tastes. Enjoy.