This salad has been around, in one form or another, since Café Paradiso opened. It is essentially a basic green salad with interesting bits added to make a more substantial starter or light lunch. It got its name from Toby the olive man, because at first all of the ingredients except the lettuce came from his stall in Cork’s English Market. This is the current version but other former stars include roasted peppers, potatoes, green beans, parmesan or sheep’s cheese shavings and, of course, olives. We make the mayonnaise quite thick and intense, and dilute it as required - a thick dressing will weigh down a salad. (The original thick version makes a lovely dip for warm asparagus.) For the fresh herbs use parsley, basil and thyme as a base, and one or two of oregano, dill, marjoram, fennel, chervil or chives.
COARSELY CHOP THE GARLIC AND HERBS, then put them in a food processor to finely chop them. Add the egg and mustard and leave the processor running for a minute or two. While it is running, start to slowly pour in the sunflower oil and keep pouring until you have a thick emulsion. Add most of the vinegar and some seasoning, blend briefly, then taste the mayonnaise. You may need to add more seasoning or vinegar. This quantity will be too much for your Tobias salad, and it will be too thick. To dilute the mayonnaise for this salad, whisk in some hot water - it doesn’t take much to change the thick emulsion to a pouring consistency. The rest will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
To make the croutons, cut some day-old bread into small dice, toss these in olive oil in an oven tray and bake at a moderate temperature for about ten minutes, until nicely toasted and crisp.
Toss the leaves in enough mayonnaise to coat them and divide between four plates. Quarter or halve the artichokes and scatter them on top of the greens with the capers, tomatoes and croutons. Drizzle a little more mayonnaise over the salad, aiming for the unadorned vegetables.
© 1999 All rights reserved. Published by Cork University Press.