Recipe: Tomatoes with Thyme and Fried Capers

Recipe: Tomatoes with Thyme and Fried Capers

Author of one of our bestsellers, That Sounds So Good, Carla Lalli Music believes that delicious food is an essential and attainable part of life, no matter how busy you are. 

Carla knows that the most successful home cooks choose dishes they actually have time to make, based on what they already have on hand. The key is to have recipes up your sleeve for every situation.

Featured in our Larder Love bundles, this book makes a great gift for those who love to cook, or simply love to eat, and this recipe is sure to become a summer staple as we head into warmer weather.

This is an edited extract from That Sounds So Good by Carla Lalli Music published by Hardie Grant Books.

Tomatoes with Thyme and Fried Capers

6 servings

This is a variation on a fail-safe formula: raw tomatoes plus herbs plus salt. Frying the capers (the salt in the equation) causes them to crisp and unfurl like a popcorn kernel. I prefer salted – as opposed to brined – capers for this; their texture is a little meatier and they tend to be bigger and fatter. The hot oil they were cooked in is then added to the thyme leaves in the dressing, which tempers and blooms the herbs. 

  • 1.15 kg (2½ lb) tomatoes, any type
  • 1 teaspoon flaky salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 bushy thyme sprigs, or more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 lemon

Cut the tomatoes into shapes and sizes that make you happy, such as slicing the big guys crossways or into wedges if you’re feeling that, cutting the little ones in half, or even leaving some of the smallest ones whole.

Your salad, your choice! Transfer them to a big platter as you go, then season liberally with flaky salt. Let sit to get the juices going.

Pick the leaves from thyme sprigs (you should have about 2 tablespoons – if not, pick more thyme!). Combine the thyme and 1 teaspoon flaky salt in a mortar and pestle and pound until the leaves look dark and wet, and the mixture resembles a fine, crumbly paste, about 3 minutes. (You can use a mini chopper or a spice grinder for this; if you don’t have those, finely chop the thyme and combine it with salt in a small bowl.) 

Rinse the capers, if salted, or drain them if they’re brined. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium–high, then add the capers. Cook, swirling the frying pan often, until the capers sizzle, burst open and turn golden brown inside and out, about 2 minutes. Pour fried capers and their oil over the pounded thyme and stir to combine. Let cool until warm, a few minutes, then spoon thyme mixture over the tomatoes. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze juice over. Drizzle salad with more oil. This is killer straight out of the gate, but also very desirable if it sits for an hour or two at room temperature. Tilt the platter and spoon the accumulated juices over the tomatoes before serving.