A light, colourful and flavourful main dish for high summer
Tear half a ciabatta loaf into small pieces, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet then grill or bake them until crisp. If you prefer, you can cook them in a shallow pan on the hob. When the bread is crisp, cut a plump clove of fresh young garlic in half and rub the bread with it.
Slice 500g of large tomatoes into thick rounds and put them in a large serving bowl then add the bread to the tomatoes. Rinse 150g of caper berries and add them to the dish.
In a blender or food processor whizz 75ml of olive oil with a very large handful of basil into a bright, fragrant dressing. Season with a little salt then pour over the tomatoes and toss gently. Serves 2.
Eat the tossed salad almost as soon as you make it. That way the bread will still be crisp, yet saturated with the basil dressing. Leave it too long and you have soggy bread. As with almost any tomato dish, ripeness is all. In this particular recipe, it is crucial. If your tomatoes are less than perfect then make something else.
This is a backbone salad of tomatoes, bread and fragrant basil dressing. To this you could happily add grilled tuna, broken into large pieces; smoked mackerel or bottled or tinned anchovies; or perhaps grilled aubergine, brushed with some of the basil oil before cooking. Broken mozzarella, poached salt cod or grilled courgettes would work, too. As smaller introductions, try black olives, capers, blanched green beans or contrasting sweet-sharp "Sungold" yellow tomatoes.
Nigel Slater: 'As with almost any tomato dish, ripeness is all.' Pictured: his tomato and toasted bread salad recipe. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer