Fresh cherry tomatoes
Fresh cherry tomatoes
Image: Supplied

I’ve been craving tomatoes lately. Thinking of a fruit salad with tomatoes. I’m not sure I liked the fruit as a kid, but my adult self loves a little bit of fresh tomato.

Truth is, I’ve always been a kid fond of non-sweet flavours, usually going for tart. I loved Indian tonic as a child, it was my five-year-old tipple of choice. Ha ha! I remember toasting with my dad — my tonic to his double whiskey in his office in the early evening after school.

Perhaps he is the reason behind my refined kiddie palate. He taught me how to cook. He had a French cookbook and we started on things such as onion soup and dishes that had inordinate amounts of red wine. It’s so funny thinking about it now. I just remember standing on a chair and him saying “pour more”. They call these core memories.

My dad also loved a slice of tomato with salt, white pepper (I discovered black pepper only as a teen in the big city, Joburg) and raw onion. Sometimes it would accompany some sliced tongue or Bull Brand corned meat and brown bread. The things we ate.

My mother was very good at making sure we ate our vegetables and she made a veggie yummy. Salads were a standard at our family meal table and a chopped tomato featured heavily — I was not always a fan. Cherry tomatoes were a discovery of our Joburg years when we moved to the city of mine dumps and discoveries.

It’s no surprise I like a salad. I prefer more involved and layered kinds, but when I realised we had mistakenly grown too many tomatoes in the veggie patch, my zero-waste energy was ignited. I sliced up some red onion, went in search of some fresh fior di latte cheese, the freshest of basil leaves and this simple salad was born to adorn our lunch table again.

Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar for the difference
Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar for the difference
Image: / pinterest

Keeping it simple and fresh is nostalgic for me. There are so many ingredients we did not grow up with in the Eastern Cape, but like it says in a book I read recently, The Secrets of Italian Self Care, “simple, fresh produce and sharing it with close loved ones is the recipe to full and fulfilling living”.


  1. Cherry tomatoes (preferably freshly picked from your overgrown patch) — washed and cut in half (enough for the serving, but start with 500g)
  2. Halved red onion thinly sliced
  3. 2 handfuls of fresh basil
  4. Little Bocconi or one large ball of fior di latte mozzarella
  5. 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  6. 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  7. 2 x teaspoons of maldon salt
  8. ½ teaspoon of white pepper (keeping it old school)
  9. Sprinkle of dried oregano
  10. 2 x teaspoons of balsamic vinegar


  • Wash, dry and cut the tomatoes in half.
  • Slice the red onion thinly and place some of it at the bottom of the bowl and scatter a few whole basil leaves over.
  • Drop the cut tomatoes into the bowl and sprinkle generously with salt and let them sit for about five minutes.
  • Drizzle the maple syrup over.
  • Tear the mozzarella, whether bocconcini or a whole ball, and place across the salad.
  • Pour one tablespoon of olive oil over and then toss, then mix the tomatoes and onion and basil until well combined.
  • Scatter the rest of the onion over, salt again and give it a light toss.
  • Pour the balsamic over the white pepper and then one more very slight toss.
  • Tear up the remaining basil and scatter over the salad.
  • Pour over the remaining olive oil and a good last sprinkle of salt and good grind of black pepper (yes, it has its place at the end).

Serve straight away in one of your best dishes. This salad is a visual triumph with its beautiful colours, so a white bowl or platter works best. The flavours are delicious and seep through. Serve with meat or fish and some crusty bread. Save some of the bread for the next day and make delicious olive oil-soaked croutons and throw them into the mix for a panzanella. Whichever way you make it, it keeps well and is a crowd favourite.

Enjoy this delicious, seasonal salad of summer and special times in a beautiful bowl.

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