Heirloom tomatoes are pretty expensive in Singapore, which is why you need to drive/fly/transport yourself to Malaysia to make this salad. Now, I didn’t fly to Penang just make this salad, but I did seize my opportunity to buy affordable heirloom tomatoes and make this when I visited my meat-loving family over the holidays.
To begin, get thee your ingredients. The quantity is not so important, which is another way of saying that I didn’t take measurements, but this is what I used: 6 heirloom tomatoes (a colourful variety that came in a pack), 5-6 baby sweet capsicum peppers, 1 box of strawberries, juice from 1/2 a lemon, honey, and a handful of sweet basil and mint.
It goes without saying that you should first wash all of your produce. Cut your tomatoes into wedges, quarter the strawberries, and add them to a large mixing bowl. A beautiful, bamboo salad bowl will get you presentation points, but any mixing bowl will work. The base of your salad is now done! Now for the dressing, which is just macerated basil, mint, lemon juice, and honey to taste.
You can chop/rip the basil and mint leaves but if you have a mortar and pestle, start with a handful of the basil and grind the leaves to release all that green goodness and the aromatic oils. I’d go easy with the mint, especially if you are using spearmint like I did. Chocolate or lemon mint would probably work better, but work with what you have.
Once the leaves have broken down, add the lemon juice and honey to taste. When the dressing is ~twangy and not too tart, drizzle it over the salad and gently toss. The tomatoes have probably released some liquid so give your salad a gentle toss. Garnish with a few basil and mint leaves and cracked black pepper, and serve!
Besides the salad, I also made a few other plant-based dishes and my mum roasted veggies in her new air-fryer. Side note: I’ve never had air-fried vegetables and they were surprisingly good and quick to make. This was the first time I cooked for my family, and I volunteered to make an all plant-based dinner because everything we ate during the week was meat-heavy.
The reception was unsurprisingly mild, as meat is usually the main (and second course) for dinner. I could tell that they were not enthusiastic at the lack of meat, but out of familial politeness they ate their vegetables.
I don’t regret making dinner that night as I genuinely enjoy cooking. And not that I was forceful and my family resistant, but that dinner reminded me that I can’t force anyone to adopt a certain lifestyle. Thankfully, my family was open to trying something different, if only for one night, which is all you can really ask for. Till then, may your dinner tables be filled with conversation and your grocery store filled with affordable, beautiful, and ripe tomatoes!