Tomatoes with steak & wild salsa verde
Kate says: “There is nothing more unappetizing than an over-chilled, woolly-textured, tasteless tomato. But to pluck a sun-warmed, perfectly ripe tomato from its stem, taking a moment to inhale the heady scent of the leaves as you do so, and to eat it, there and then, is sublime. My grandfather was a great tomato grower – a skill that has not been passed down to me, although I refuse to give up. Just the smell of tomato leaves rubbed between my fingers transports me back to being seven or eight years old, walking through my grandfather’s greenhouse in his rather gruff wake, holding a bowl into which he would place the ripe fruit we would have for lunch with bread and cheese.
“I could eat tomatoes, just on their own, by the plateful, their sweetness enhanced with nothing more than flakes of sea salt. However, they do go beautifully with very simply cooked steak, and tomatoes and steak combine very satisfactorily with the sharp, green acidity of a salsa verde. This is one of those meals that tastes elaborate and feels like a real treat, yet is testimony to the fact that good ingredients need almost nothing doing to them. Consequently, you can rustle this up faster than a bowl of pasta.
“The salsa verde can be made in advance and will keep in a jar in the fridge for a few days. It will still be delicious if you only use bought herbs, but inspired by my friend Liz Knight, an inveterate and enthusiastic forager, I have used a recipe she shared with me which includes some wild alternatives. Steak is a treat, something worth going to a butcher for, rather than buying it in a supermarket. Ben, the butcher at our local farm shop, will always advocate ribeye or sirloin over fillet steak as these cuts have more fat and therefore more flavour. But he is a big fan of flank of beef, or bavette steak as it is also known, and so am I. Buy it in one piece – 300g (10 ½ oz) should be enough for two people – then slice it against the grain and divide it up when it is cooked.”
For the salsa verde
25g rocket or bittercress
25g spinach or chickweed
25g mint leaves
25g parsley or ground elder
25g spring onions
2 garlic cloves
40g drained capers
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 tsp Dijon mustard
100ml olive oil
For the rest
250g mixed tomatoes
Handful of chives
2 steaks, 150–200g each
For the salsa verde, finely chop the herbs, spring onions, garlic and capers and put in a bowl. Add the salt, sugar and mustard and stir to combine. Pour in the olive oil and then add a tablespoon of vinegar, stir and taste, adding more vinegar until you get the balance between oil and vinegar that you like. Adjust the seasoning – adding more sugar or salt if necessary. You want it to be sharp and zingy, but not eye wateringly so. Will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, stored in a sealed jar.
Slice your tomatoes and lay them out in a serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil, and snip over the chives. Season with salt and a little pepper.
Cook the steaks on a barbecue or in a grill pan on the hob. Get the pan really hot. Season the steaks really well (but don’t use oil as you will just fill your kitchen with smoke) and put them in the hot pan or over the coals. Cook for 2–3 minutes each side – you want them to be charred on the outside but still pink and luscious inside. Leave them to rest for 5–10 minutes, then serve with the tomatoes, salsa verde and a really good glass of red wine.
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