Nigel Slater’s recipes for watermelon and tomato salad, and a cherry ricotta tart
HomeHome > Blog > Nigel Slater’s recipes for watermelon and tomato salad, and a cherry ricotta tart

Nigel Slater’s recipes for watermelon and tomato salad, and a cherry ricotta tart

May 27, 2023

Summer blazes on. I return from the market not with a bag of lush greens but with an assortment of scarlet ingredients: a huge wedge of watermelon, bags of cherries, tomatoes, radishes and punnets of deep red berries.

Watermelon is something of a permanent resident in my fridge throughout the mid to late summer. Hacked into thick slices, the sweet crimson flesh turns up in salads with feta cheese or ricotta, as a chilled gazpacho-style soup with red peppers and radishes, tossed with mint sprigs or, as I ate last autumn in Beirut, with pomegranate molasses, tomatoes and toasted sourdough.

I am grateful to the previous occupants of this house for planting a cherry tree, but do rather wish they’d chosen a fruiting variety than one purely for its blossom. Few things quite say high summer like dipping into a bag of cherries. I rarely cook a cherry, tumbling them instead over the smooth, creamy surfaces of tarts and trifles, or marinating them with elderflower cordial, cassis or just a little orange juice to tease out their flavour. This week, my haul ended up on a ricotta tart with a little of the cherries’ muscat-scented marinating syrup.

I suggest watermelon here, but there is no reason not to use any of the ripe melons around in the summer. Cantaloupe will work well here, too. Serves 4

sourdough or ciabatta 350gtomatoes 450gwatermelon 750g (skin on weight)spring onions 4radishes 8parsley a small bunch, about 15g (weighed with stalks)mint sprigs a small bunch, about 10gpumpkin seeds 2 tbsp

For the dressing:pomegranate molasses 2 tbspolive oil 3 tbsplemon 1

Tear the bread into uneven pieces, roughly 3 x 4cm. Place them on an oven tray in a single layer, then cook them under a hot grill until golden, then turn and cook the other side. You want them to be toasted, but quite dry and crisp to the touch. Remove from the heat and transfer to a cooling rack.

Cut the tomatoes according to their size. Cherry tomatoes can be halved, anything larger needs halving and cutting into 4 or 6 segments. Remove the skin from the watermelon and cut the flesh into similar-sized pieces, then add to the tomatoes.

Discard the tough dark green stalks of the spring onions, then slice the rest into thin rings and add to the watermelon and tomatoes. Thinly slice the radishes. Pick the leaves from the parsley and mint and add to the tomatoes with the radishes and pumpkin seeds.

Make the dressing: in a small bowl or jar mix together the pomegranate molasses, olive oil and the juice of the lemon. Season with salt and ground black pepper, then add to the salad.

Scatter the roasted bread among the salad and toss everything with the dressing, then pile on to a serving dish.

A quiet, dairy-based tart with the gentle flavours of ricotta, vanilla and cream for a summer’s day. This is glorious with raspberries, too. Serves 8

For the pastry:plain flour 200gbutter 100gicing sugar 2 tbspegg yolk 1water a little

For the filling:ricotta 500gcaster sugar 70gorange zest of 1, mediumeggs 1, large plus an extra yolkvanilla extract 1 tspcornflour 1 level tbspcherries 400gelderflower cordial 2 tbspdouble cream 250mlicing sugar 1-2 tbsp (optional)

You will need a loose-bottomed tart tin, 20cm in diameter.

In a food processor, reduce the flour and butter to coarse crumbs, add the sugar, then the beaten egg yolk and just enough water to bring the dough together into a firm ball – about 2 tbsp. Wrap in baking parchment or greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board and lower into the tart tin. Push the pastry right into the corners and up the sides. Trim the edges with a knife, then fill the tart case with foil and baking beans and set aside in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes. Set the oven at 190C/gas mark 5.

Bake the tart case for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and carefully take out the foil and baking beans. Return the pastry case to the oven for 5 minutes until dry to the touch. Remove and set aside.

Make the filling: put the ricotta and sugar in the bowl of a food mixer. Finely grate the orange zest. Lightly beat the egg and egg yolk then add to the bowl with the vanilla and orange zest. Mix briefly, add the cornflour and mix again. Using a rubber spatula, spoon into the pastry case and smooth the surface. Return to the oven, bake for 25 minutes: the filling will be wobbly, but will firm as it cools.

Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool. Then chill in the fridge for an hour.

Lightly whip the cream. It should be just thick enough sit in soft folds. Stir in a little icing sugar if you wish. Make the cherry layer: halve and stone the cherries, put them in a bowl then sprinkle with the elderflower cordial. Remove the tart from the fridge and gently transfer to a serving plate (or leave it in the tart tin if that is easier). Top the tart with the whipped cream and spoon the cherries and the juices over it and serve.

Follow Nigel on Instagram @NigelSlater

sourdough or ciabatta tomatoes watermelonspring onionsradishesparsleymint sprigspumpkin seeds pomegranate molassesolive oil lemon plain flourbuttericing sugar egg yolkwaterricotta caster sugarorangeeggs vanilla extractcornflourcherries elderflower cordial double cream icing sugar