As Summer wanes, we turn more to the harder herbs in our salads. Tarragon, Marjoram, Oregano, Sage. They add a substance, a groundedness to our salads that is not provided by basil, coriander, mint, parsley (well maybe parsley).
I have often wondered why English recipes, for example, as good as modern English cooking is, prefer to use the harder herbs all summer, and I conclude that it is their weather – much cooler there than our blistering 45C days in Summer. But as Autumn approaches, we can take a leaf from our English cousins and introduce the harder herbs. Judiciously, of course. One cannot use them with the free abandon that we use green coriander, parsley and basil. The tastes are much harder, a little astringent, more – well, more wintery if truth be told. You can tell that they are leading the way into the colder weather, where we will use bay and juniper berries and black cardamom.
Tomato Salad with Balsamic and Marjoram
For this salad, take some ripe tomatoes and slice or quarter if they are small. Add balsamic vinegar and some sea salt, a small leaf of sage (chopped) and some chopped fresh marjoram or oregano. Finely grate over a little lime or lemon zest if you can. I use a microplane grater for this. A sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper adds zest.
Allow to marinate in the mixture while you prepare the rest of the meal.