Ensalada is a Spanish salad of perfect tomatoes and mild, sweet onion slices. It is found around the world in countries or regions that have had a Spanish influence in their history. It’s not to be confused with the Italian insalata. Ensalada is centre piece on the table at meal times. They can be simple with just the 2 perfect ingredients dressed with olive oil and white wine vinegar, or they can have addition ingredients added to the simple base. In this way, the salad can vary from day to day, yet still feature the 2 main ingredients. A few olives, some cucumber slices, a little cos lettuce, a tiny amount of soft herb. A salad that is sweet, cool and fresh.
Made this way, the salad is perfect. Over stuffed with numerous additions, it is no longer ensalada, but a mish mash of complex flavours that negate the beautiful simplicity of the traditional way of serving this salad.
Similar recipes include this terrific Tomato Salad, Çorban Salatası, Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad, Tomato Salad with Parsley Oil, Broad Bean and Tomato Salad, Cherry and Hazelnut Salad, and Tomato Salad with Green Olives.
The French have their own versions of such a perfect salad – salade de tomates or the more elaborate salad nicoise.
Search for the best tomatoes for such salads. Red onions suit sweet, juicy tomatoes very well. Golden shallots also. If ever there was something to make us plant our own tomatoes, it is this salad. Tomatoes from the Green Grocer these days are not the perfect ones that this salad demands. They tend to be all-purpose, and thus become non-purpose, too firm, not sweet, little of the sun-kissed flavours of old.
If you can find the perfect tomato, be sure to make an ensalada to begin your meal.