Tomato salad with chili, black pepper, and cardamom from Madcapra’s via Cherry Bombe issue no. 7.

Tomato Salad with Chili, Black Pepper, and Cardamom

Recently The Kitchen Witch posted about how she likes to seduce late spring/early summer tomatoes by making punchy vinaigrettes, and her Kalamata olive one would be pretty fabulous if I liked olives more. But it reminded me of a recipe I had earmarked in the most recent issue of Cherry Bombe magazine in which you make a spicy oil to drizzle over tomatoes along with some lemon juice, cilantro, and sesame seeds and so a couple of weekends ago I decided I had to make it in the name of trying something that was new to me.

The recipe comes by way of Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson from LA’s  Madcapra’s in the Grand Central Market, and their focus is mainly on fresh Mediterranean flavors which naturally sounds just about perfect for this time of year. You grind up some cardamom, dried arbol chiles, and black peppercorns and add them to some olive oil and let that sit for a little bit to let the flavors marry, and then they are added to the tomatoes along with the other flavors. It’s not precise, exactly—you basically add things and taste them as you go along—but that absolutely should be the mindset when making a summer salad. The recipe also can be adjusted as needed very easily, as the original one calls for a mix of cherry and heirloom tomatoes, but if you want to stick to one size that would be perfectly fine too. I’d also like to play around with some of the flavors in the oil; I’m curious to how a chipotle-cumin oil would taste, (maybe using lime juice instead of lemon to dress the tomatoes), and I bet using star anise or fennel seeds and maybe some Alpeppo pepper would go nicely with tomatoes as well.

Kramer and Hymanson also say that with some pita and some labneh this would make a pretty great breakfast or lunch,

Tomato Salad with Chili, Black Pepper, and Cardamom

Adapted from Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson as it appears in Cherry Bombe issue no. 7

Serves 1-2

  • 1 teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1-2 dried arbol chiles
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2-3 heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • Juice of ½ to a whole lemon
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • A handful of cilantro leaves, washed
  • Kosher salt

Make the spice oil: toast the spices and pepper over dry heat until fragrant, and then blend together using a spice grinder. Combine with the oil and let sit for about 20 minutes before using (and this oil can also be stashed in the fridge, but let it come up to room temperature before using.)

In a medium sized bowl, add the tomatoes and then drizzle with the spice oil. Add lemon juice and salt to taste, and then finish with the sesame seeds and cilantro, stirring to mix everything well. Serve immediately.

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