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Tom-ah-to, tom-ay-to

Sun, 3 September, 2023

Whichever way we say it, the time is now to put tomatoes in everything for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Our garden tomatoes this year have blessed us with a bumper crop. Quite unbelievable, considering the rubbish weather we had in July! It proves clearly that if they get a good head start – June was fabulously hot – they’ll harden and thrive, even through subsequently mediocre growing conditions.

We’ve had some impressive specimen, a beefsteak-type weighing 640g, and absolute tonnes of medium sized and cherry tomatoes freshly picked on daily basis and eaten immediately. We’ve been giving lots away and semi-drying even more. Semi-drying or dehydrating is a great method to turn not-so-ripe and perhaps England-watery (rather than Italian fleshy) fruit into a fabulous snack or ingredient. Their sweetness soars exponentially and the skin, possibly on the tough side on raw fruit, becomes delightfully chewy and soft.

If you have a glut of tomatoes, that’s the way to go. Countertop dehydrators are quite expensive if you’re not going to be producing bags of semi-dried fruit or vegetables annually. But if you have an electric fan oven or an air fryer, they will serve well too.

There is a bit of prep that’s required before drying tomatoes, which I’m not very fond of but no pain, no gain I guess. Tomatoes should be halved crosswise, the largest ones quartered, and all the seeds and watery insides removed from them. I scoop them out with my fingers; you can also use a salad spinner to deseed them though they might come out a little mangled.

The next step is salting them liberally and placing on paper towel-lined trays, cut sides down, for 10-15 minutes. Salt draws out moisture so this salting stage will speed up drying.

The oven should ideally run at 60-70C/140-150F with the fan on and the tomatoes arranged on all the wire cake racks you and your neighbours have. With air fryers, look it up in the instructions. I haven’t got one, but online opinions claim it’s feasible.

And now onto recipes with fresh or cooked tomatoes. To enjoy ripe, delicious fresh tomatoes, you frankly only need good salt, pepper and excellent olive oil, but there is a good pairing or two worth trying. Like the tomato and fig salad or burrata-stuffed tomato nuns. Sweetcorn, also in season, is good with tomatoes, as is whipped feta cheese.

For cooking tomatoes as a main feature, look no further than stuffed tomatoes, with cheesy breadcrumbs and herbs. They are barely cooked in the pappardelle with fresh tomatoes dish, and just perfect. Or add them to provolone pasta bake if you prefer it cheesy.

There are some wonderful tomato pastry recipes, from puff pastry tarte Tatin, through a work-of-art tarte with plum tomatoes, to tomato crostata.

You can roast tomatoes and other summer vegetables to serve them with couscous or with feta. You can roast them with feta, too, plus a tin of chickpeas. They work with rice and with cabbage. And any surplus still remaining can be turned into tomato butter or confit tomatoes.

Last but not least, true to its actual botanical nature, you can have it for dessert, of sorts. Tomato sorbet is a fabulous refreshment, an impressive appetiser and it is uniquely lovely as a scoop alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Beats salted caramel by far!

So there – hope that tomato recipe wealth will keep you happy until the end of the season. Happy tom-ah-toing!

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About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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