Grilled Cherry Tomato Salad

This is a very simple, very effective way of turning cherry tomatoes into a superb and versatile salad. The tomatoes are pierced then grilled or roasted briefly at 180C/gas mark 4, just a few minutes, until they slacken and turn very juicy but removed from the heat before they completely collapse. The tomatoes are doused with a generous splash of olive oil and another of balsamic vinegar beforehand. Ideally you want a syrupy balsamico rather than a watery one but the latter can be concentrated by simmering briefly in a small saucepan. The combination of sweetly intense balsamico, grassy, new season olive oil and tomato juices makes a lovely emulsion of the juicy tomatoes. Serve it as it is or with finely chopped chives, as in this picture, to get a gentle onion flavour. Other good add-ons are slivers of garlic, wild garlic or basil folded into the hot tomatoes to wilt and/or pitted black olives – my choice would be Crespo from a 70g sachet. Another way of extending the salad, as you can see from the photo I did, is with ribbons of roasted, peeled Romano red pepper or piquillo peppers (from a jar).

Any quantity of tomatoes is suitable for this treatment; I used a 250g carton of cherry tomatoes with 1 tbsp Belazu balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp best olive oil. Tipped into a serving bowl to cool, it was then garnished with 2 tbsp finely snipped chives.