Méli-Mélo is a wonderful French word which simply translated means a mixture, medley, assortment. selection or to use the old English word, a Muddle! This is a simple and yet stunning tomato salad, which relies heavily on assorted sun-ripened tomatoes, sea salt, herbs and good olive oil. It makes a "stand-alone" meal or a wonderful accompaniment. The tomatoes I used in the salad in my photographs were good old fashioned heirloom tomatoes called: Pineapple (yellow and mottled red inside - sweet and fruity flavoured), Black Krim (black-ish skin and dark purple inside - tangy taste), Marmande (Traditional French toms with a beefy taste and texture), Brandywine (dark Bordeaux colour with superb flavour), Moneymaker (traditional English toms - a gardener's favourite - full of flavour) and Auriga (medium orange tom with a sharp and tangy flavour). Try to use a selection of different shapes, colours and flavours when you make this salad. Do NOT omit the salting process – it is essential to this recipe as it brings out the flavours to their fullest……trust me; this salad is NOT salty as the salt drains away with the excess tomato juices! Serve this with grilled artisanal breads such as boule, couronne, ciabatta, cottage loaf, home-made breads or crusty rolls. Grilled cheese or fresh goat’s cheese is also a wonderful addition to this salad. Alternatively, serve it alongside grilled or barbecued meats or with pasties, pies or quiches – it really is simply delicious just by itself however!
- Cut, dice and slice your assorted tomatoes - making sure that there are plenty of different shapes, sizes and colours of tomatoes available. I like to leave small cherry tomatoes whole, and then slice large tomatoes, whilst dicing and cubing medium and round tomatoes - try to make the salad look "textured"!
- Place the sliced and diced tomatoes into a large colander. Sprinkle over some sea salt - not too much, about 1/4 teaspoon, then shake the tomatoes gently and sprinkle over some more sea salt. Do this one more time and allow them to sit for 15 to 30 minutes in a sink or over a bowl.
- Transfer the tomatoes to a large attractive serving bowl or platter, and sprinkle over your choice of chopped fresh or dried herbs, see above in the ingredients list.
- Make the dressing using one part vinegar to three parts olive oil, then add the minced garlic and some freshly ground black pepper - taste and adjust the seasoning; salt should not be needed as the tomatoes will have some residual salt left - but add salt to the dressing if you feel it is needed.
- Drizzle the dressing over the tomatoes and chopped herbs and then decorate the salad with whole herb leaves and flowers, serve immediately.
- If you are transporting this salad to a picnic, decant the dressing into a bottle and only dress the salad just before serving and eating it.
- Serve with assorted crusty and artisanal breads and rolls – for ease of “juice mopping”!