Sbyoes for a Scottish Salad


Syboes for a Scottish Salad

F. Marian McNeill is best known for her highly regarded book on Scottish cookery The Scots Kitchen, a subject she was passionate about. In an article she wrote for the Scotsman titled Salad-Time is Here: Be Salad Minded (10th June 1935) F. Marian McNeill shows us how the demise of British food is nothing new. ‘Once you can make a plain good salad you should experiment with various of our admirable but much neglected British herbs, such as parsley, chives, mint, tarragon, chervil, salad burnet (used sparingly), dandelion, nasturtium, and the tender leaves of the golden purslane’. You would be lucky to find half of these herbs in the shops today.

In the article she suggests making a simple salad of tomatoes and syboes, well seasoned and covered with French dressing. Syboe (pronounced sy-bee) is the old fashioned Scots word for spring onion. Like so many food related words in Scots, syboe comes from the french for spring onion, ciboule. A tomato and onion salad can hardly be called a recipe, but her idea is a beautiful and simple one we can use when tomatoes are at their best. Of course, any of the herbs above would compliment this salad perfectly.


a handful of good fleshy tomatoes

1 syboe

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar

salt and pepper


First make the dressing. Dissolve a good pinch of salt in a bowl with the white wine vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil slowly with a large whisk so it emulsifies. Add a grinding of black pepper.

Slice the tomatoes thickly. She scalded and peeled her tomatoes as they sometimes do on the continent with larger tomatoes. Spread the tomatoes out on a large plate. Slice the syboe on a diagonal as thin as you possibly can. Strew it over the tomatoes and pour over the dressing. Serve immediately while the tomatoes are still firm and fresh tasting.

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