Thursday, 23 August 2012

Argentinian Tomato Salad or Ensalada de Tomates y Cebollas

When my mother in law came to stay a few years ago, she taught me how to cook some Argentinian dishes. She made us guiso de lentejas, a bubbling stew made with minced beef, lentils and cabbage; milanesas, thin beef steaks covered in breadcrumbs and fried; and tortilla, a fat egg omelette with onions and chorizo. Lots of meat. And apart from the cabbage in the dish I mentioned, I don't remember her eating many vegetables. 
In Argentina, they don't tend to serve up great piles of steaming vegetables but choose to wash all that meat down with a huge range of salads. There's ensalada mixta, handfuls of lettuce, onion and tomato all tossed together, and ensalada rusa, a mixture of boiled potatoes, carrots and peas bound together with a dollop or two of mayonnaise.

But one of my favourites is ensalada de tomates y cebollas - sliced tomatoes, raw onions, oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt.

It's refreshing, juicy and the perfect counterpart for grilled or barbecued meats. And soon after it's made, the tomato juices leak out and mingle with the vinegar and oil. Don't waste it. Dip fresh, crusty bread into it once you've polished off the salad. Here's how you make it.

Ensalada de Tomates y Cebollas.... a whole heap of tomatoes and raw onion

Argentinian Tomato and Onion Salad (Ensalada de Tomates y Cebollas)

Serves 2
  • 1 medium sized white onion
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt

  1. Boil the kettle. Peel and slice the onion into thin rounds and transfer to a bowl. Pour boiling water over the onion slices just to cover and leave for about 2 minutes. Drain well. This removes most of the acidic raw flavour of the onion, making it easier to eat.
  2. Slice the tomato into thin rounds and toss with the onion. Drizzle in the olive oil, vinegar and add the salt and mix well, adding more vinegar, oil or salt to taste.

What are your favourite salads?