Salad of Parma ham, figs, tomatoes, dates and basil

This salad is simple and light, comprising ripe, sweet, summer dates pinned down with the slightly salty flavour of the Parma ham. Heritage tomatoes are not difficult to find these days and the basil here I have seemed to grow very easily this year in my garden at home. You don't have to use either these tomatoes or the basil – but do make sure the ingredients are ripe.

Serves 4

3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
The zest of one lemon
60ml/21/2fl oz light extra-virgin olive oil
4 ripe figs, torn
11/2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
8 very fine slices of Parma ham
2 Medjool dates, deseeded, finely chopped
16 leaves of basil
1 tbsp grated Parmesan

Start by seasoning the tomatoes with salt and pepper, sprinkle over the lemon zest and a little olive oil.

Now tear the figs and season them with some black pepper and a drizzle or two of balsamic.

Arrange the Parma ham, figs and tomatoes on four plates, layering slightly so the flavours mingle together.

Gently pour over the rest of the olive oil, drizzle over the remaining vinegar and scatter the dates, basil and grated Parmesan to finish.

Serve at once while all the flavours are still vibrant.

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