There's something about fresh mint and sweet tomatoes that makes my taste buds tingle with glee, but this taste sensation is one that is not easily found here in Australia.
In recent years the quality and flavour of store-bought tomatoes in this country has been declining. They're usually dry, bland and tasteless – genetically modified to look good, but tasting like cardboard.
Tomatoes in Greece are wonderfully sweet and juicy, like the fruit they are meant to be, and it was with family on the Greek island of Limnos that I first learned of the tantalising tomato and mint combination.
Tomatoes on the vine in Limnos, Greece:
Unfortunately, without enough room or sun in my back garden to grow my own tomatoes, my search for the perfect tomato in Australia is limited to hunting the stores. The closest I have come to finding sweet, fruity tomatoes are packets of Mini Romas and Grape Tomatoes. (I think that's often the way with vegetables – the smaller they are, the sweeter they are.) I chose Mini Romas for this salad recipe, but you could use any variety of sweet tomato.
Thankfully the quality of green beans in Australia isn't too bad and combined with sweet tomatoes and feta they make a lovely refreshing, crunchy summer salad to accompany a generous serve of Spanakopita (spinach and cheese pie) or vegetarian moussaka (recipe coming soon!). And the contrasting colours look great too!
Green Bean, Tomato and Feta Salad
Note: You can present this either as a "two-tone" salad where the tomatoes are kept separate from the beans (as pictured above), or you can just toss everything together.
- 400g Mini Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
- 400g green beans, stems trimmed
- 100g smooth feta cheese, roughly crumbled
- 1/3 cup almond slivers
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
- Cracked pepper
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add beans, cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- While the beans are cooking, prepare a large bowl of ice-cold water (just empty as many ice cubes as you can spare into the bowl of water).
- Drain and rinse the beans under cold running water for 20 seconds then immediately transfer to the bowl of iced water and leave for 5 minutes. This will ensure the beans remain bright green and crunchy.
- Meanwhile, dry fry the almond slivers in a non-stick frying pan with no oil until slightly browned, tossing fairly constantly. It takes around 3 or 4 minutes, but be careful because once they start to brown they burn quickly. Remove from the heat and empty onto a plate to allow to cool.
- Drain the beans again and pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
- Place the mini roma halves in a medium bowl. Whisk oil and lemon juice together in a separate bowl and pour half of this mixture over the tomatoes. Add mint and mix well.
- Go back to the remaining oil and lemon juice mixture and add onions and parsley. When almonds have cooled, add to the salsa and mix well.
- Arrange the beans on one half of an oval or round plate, and the mini romas on the other half.
- Spoon the onion salsa over the beans, and sprinkle the feta over the tomatoes. Season with plenty of cracked pepper.
- Just toss the whole lot together!
One day Tony and I hope to have enough room and sunshine to grow our own vegetables. Do you grow your own tomatoes? I would love to know if your home-grown tomatoes are irresistibly sweet and luscious like those found in Greece.