With the summer heat still lingering around California, my meals revolve heavily around fresh produce and components (usually vegetables, fruit, and beans). This tomato salad started as a topping for a bean/rice bowl, but I added and changed a bit to make it stand on its own.
The oil draws from chhonk (a spice blooming technique most notably found in many regional Indian cuisines-links to articles in the notes of the recipe). Add to that a bit of tang from pickled jalapenos and crunch from roasted pistachios- it’s a delightful summer salad.
¼ cup (30g) raw pistachios
1 scallion (30g)
1 ¼ pound (575g) just-ripe tomatoes (about 3 medium)
¾ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons (6g) minced pickled jalapeno (see note)
2 tablespoons (10mL) olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, cracked in a mortar (see note)
- Heat your oven to 300˚F. Spread the pistachios on a sheet tray. Roast until fragrant and starting to brown, 15 minutes. Remove, let cool, and chop into mostly fine pieces.
- While the pistachios are roasting, trim the end from the scallion and thinly slice (slicing back and forth across the scallion, not chopping). Place the scallions in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Drain and pat dry the scallions dry in a clean cloth. Let air dry until ready to use (see note).
- Core the tomatoes and cut into wedges. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt, jalapenos, 2/3rds of the chopped pistachios, and 2/3rds of the sliced scallions. Toss until combined and transfer to a serving bowl with any pistachios/scallions left in the bowl. Leave as much tomato liquid behind as possible.
- Heat the olive oil in a small pot over medium-low heat. When hot, add in the cracked cumin and sizzle for about 20 seconds- just until fragrant/slightly darken in color. Remove from heat and spoon over the tomato mixture, trying to distribute as best as possible evenly. Finish with the remaining scallions and pistachios before serving.
- Scallions: I picked up this scallion technique from Hooni Kim’s book: My Korea. By cutting across the scallions, rinsing, and patting drying, the scallions stay crisp and beautiful. It’s perfect for a salad.
- Cumin– Chhonk/Tarka/Tadka. I took inspiration for blooming the cumin from the Indian technique of Chhonk (or Tadka/Tarka- there are many variations). Most of the chhonk recipes, the spices are kept whole, but I like to crack my cumin seeds in a mortar to help the cumin stick a bit more to the tomatoes. Chhonk is such an amazing technique- I’d recommend reading the three articles I’ve linked to for a better understanding (and to up your cooking game!) The cumin I’ve bloomed here is about the simplest rendition.
- Jalapeños: I like to keep a jar of pickled jalapenos on hand for finishing many meals. I make small batches: slice 2 jalapeños (60g) and place in a heat-proof jar. Heat ½ cup water with ½ cup white vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons cane sugar until hot. Pour over the jalapenos and let cool. Will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. This recipe would also be a great place to use fermented jalapeños instead of the vinegar-based method.