The other day I came across these beautiful, colourful and juicy heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market and I knew I had to create something with them. To be able to showcase their vibrant colours, I decided to use them raw and a carpaccio felt like the right way to go. Heirloom tomatoes have slightly different flavours, colours and shapes which brings a lot of vibrancy and texture to this dish but if you're having trouble finding heirloom tomatoes, there is no reason why you shouldn't try this recipe with regular tomatoes because ultimately the special sumac vinaigrette is what makes this dish.
You'll find that this recipe is extremely easy to make. It makes a great appetiser to serve before any dish. I find it works particularly well with grilled white fish like sea bass or sea bream, pasta dishes, or red meats like lamb or beef.
When I was working on this recipe I worked with half the amount of vinaigrette and tomatoes you see in the recipe to avoid wasting too much food. So in the picture down below, you'll see that I used a bowl to marinate them. For the full recipe, I recommend using an oven tray or an oven casserole type of dish and laying your tomatoes and onions flat and pouring the vinaigrette over for and even marinating process.
This dish draws inspiration from a very famous Turkish salad called "Gavurdağı Salatası" which in its literal translation means "Foreigner Mountain Salad". It's made with finely chopped tomatoes, parsley, red onions, walnuts and uses pretty much the same vinaigrette I'm using here. The original recipe is so finely chopped that it is mostly eaten with a spoon instead of a fork and for that reason, it can also be called "spoon salad".
I've always been a big fan of sour and tangy foods since I was a child, to the point where I was eating fresh lemons and liked drinking apple cider vinegar, and evidently, this was one of my favourite salads. The apple cider vinegar and the pomegranate molasses make a very sour combination but the sweetness of the pomegranate molasses balances it out beautifully. If you find this too sour for your taste, don't be afraid to add a little honey or sugar to sweeten it up.
The only real problem you might have with this recipe is finding pomegranate molasses. If you're living in a big city, you're most likely to have a market that sells middle eastern products in your area and they'll definitely have pomegranate molasses there or can tell you where to find it. If it's not possible for you to find pomegranate molasses, don't worry! You can easily make your own by reducing fresh pomegranate juice and some sugar (or balsamic vinegar with sugar) until it reaches a syrupy consistency. You can also substitute it with a mixture of honey and lemon or honey and tamarind paste. This recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons of it so if you don't want to buy a whole bottle, you can get creative but my first two suggestions (balsamic-sugar reduction or pomegranate juice-sugar reduction) will get you closest to the actual taste we're going for here.
So this is my take on the original "Foreigner Mountain Salad". I find that plating the dish this way made it look more elegant and gave me the opportunity to showcase all those beautiful colours of the heirloom tomatoes. If you're interested, you can make it the traditional way and let me know if you like it better this way or the other.
PREP TIME: 15 MIN
MARINATING FOR: 30 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 45 MIN
For the vinaigrette:
2 tbsp of pomegranate sour (molasses)
3/4 cups or 170 grams of extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
2 tsp sumac
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
1kg or about two pounds of heirloom tomatoes, sliced crosswise
1 large red onion, sliced crosswise
3 handful of walnuts, chopped
1. Prepare the vinaigrette in a mixing bowl by whisking together olive oil, apple cider vinegar and the pomegranate sour. Add salt, pepper, oregano and sumac, whisk everything together.
2. Slice your tomatoes and red onions crosswise. You can leave or discard the tomato seeds, I prefer discarding them as much as I can to prevent the slimy look but its simply a cosmetic decision.
3. Let the tomatoes and onions marinate in the vinaigrette for 30 min or more if you like (the longer you leave the tomatoes, softer they will get, while the taste will get better, the texture might suffer).
4. Chop your walnuts coarsely or finely depending on how you want to plate your dish and top it with some parsley leaves.