The secret to good, simple food normally relies solely on the quality and freshness of our ingredients and that basically starts with the holy trinity of local, seasonal & organic. If we can eat locally produced, chemical-free food and try not to waste anything, just as our grandparents did, we might get to enjoy more natural flavours and the joys of seasonality once again.
The arrival of summer brings out the best in one of my favourite ingredients. Full of flavour, with a slightly aromatic scent, tomatoes are one of those magical ingredients that seem to make others sing and it’s no surprise that Spanish growers produce some of the tastiest varieties in the world. For something different, try to find beefsteak tomatoes, known here as cor de bou (beef hearts). Some regard them as the ‘pata negra’ of tomatoes and it’s hard to disagree.
Unlike other varieties, the ripening process occurs from the inside out. So the best time to buy them is when the tomatoes begin to display orange streaks on the green skin. As they mature, the reddish streaks on the green skin become a deeper red. The flavour is equally delicious, but you will sacrifice some of the crisp texture. Although normally sold at a premium price, tomatoes still attached to the vine are well worth the extra expense. It is the stem that gives the distinctive aroma, rather than the fruits themselves, but they can be picked when they are very ripe and generally have a better flavour.
Summer is all about enjoying the outdoors, spending time with family and friends, and relaxing over good food. And let’s face it; nobody wants to be slaving over a hot stove, spending endless sticky hours in the kitchen during the summer months when the sun rises early and goes to bed late, so it’s important to ditch complicated recipes and keep it simple. One of the most popular dishes consumed by Mallorcans in summer is trempó or trampó salad. It’s a fresh salad whose name derives from the Mallorcan term ‘trempar’, which means to dress or garnish and is served as a starter or as an accompaniment to a main course, but it is also perfect as a light summer lunch with crusty bread.
The “Trampó” is a harmonious and refined mixture of tomato, Majorcan green pepper, Mallorcan onion, oil and salt. In some recipes you might find other ingredients such as, apples, capers, olives, potatoes, boiled beans and even legumes. But the most important thing is the quality of the basic ingredients: The peppers must be juicy and whitish green, and the Mallorcan white onion must be tender.
On the other hand, the mixture has to be proportionate: lot’s of tomato, little green pepper and less onion. The correct sequence to make a good Trampó is to add the ingredients in the following order: Tomato, green pepper, onion, salt and oil. It’s a simple dish but the best part is always dipping freshly baked bread into the olive oil-infused tomato essence at the bottom of the bowl. For my version of trampò, I’m giving it a little Middle-Eastern favour with the addition of pomegranate molasses, red chilli and mint.
"Moro" Trampó Salad
4 very ripe vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled and finely diced
2 long green peppers, deseeded and finely diced
2 red chilli peppers, deseeded and finely diced
1 small cucumber, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
1⁄2 small onion, peeled and finely diced
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1⁄2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp sherry vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Few fresh mint leaves, torn
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 In a salad bowl, add the chillies, cucumber and onion, parsley, pomegranate molasses, sherry vinegar and the extra virgin olive oil and stir well so that everything is very well combined.
2 Set aside to macerate for 20 minutes.
3 Season with salt and pepper, scatter with torn mint leaves and serve immediately.
2 aubergines, cut into 1.5cm cubes
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 celery stalks,
including leaves, chopped
3 plum tomatoes, diced
1 garlic clove, peeled & crushed
1 large red chili,
1tbsp salted capers
20 black olives, stoned
1tbsp red wine vinegar
1tspn tomato puree
2tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
10 mint leaves
Salt and pepper
1 Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan, add the aubergine cubes and fry until brown and tender (don’t over crowd the pan; you will probably have to cook them in batches). Place the warm aubergines in a bowl.
2 Blanche the celery in lightly salted water for a few minutes, then drain well and add to the aubergines.
3 Slowly cook the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until they soften without colour. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, chillies and red wine vinegar. Stir well, then cover and cook for about 15 minutes, removing the lid of the pan towards the end of cooking to remove excess moisture.
4 Add the aubergines and celery to the pan and stir in the capers and black olives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scatter with fresh mint leaves and toasted pine nuts and serve warm or at room temperature.
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