Nigel Slater’s recipes for asparagus and cannellini beans, and salmon with tomato

Bright and fresh flavours for a delicious spring supper

I wanted a sauce, quick to make, bright, tart and refreshing, that would work with whatever I brought back from the shops. The only rule was it had to use up the tomatoes I had bought and not used. Tomatoes whose smell tempted, but never really delivered in terms of flavour. The sort that end up in the pot, under the grill or in the oven rather than being used in the first, much-anticipated tomato salad of the year.

There is a temptation to throw everything in the spice rack at a fruit or vegetable that has let you down. It is invariably unwise. I start with a bit of heat (chillies or ginger); something aromatic (thyme, oregano or basil) and either a little sugar or a shot of acidity (lemon, wine vinegar or the pickle juice from a jar) depending on what you are serving it with. So the tomatoes were chopped and softened with chilli, garlic and a glass of white wine; thyme and lemon zest were added and a little fish stock to give a light sauce in which to poach some fat pieces of fish.

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