Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ode to the Tomato

Plate of tomatoes
Glass of gazpacho, tomato jelly, heirloom tomato crostini and dried tomatoes with buffalo ricotta

I was listening to the Food Programme a couple of weeks ago where Sheila Dillon was featuring the rise of heirloom tomatoes, which inspired me to make this plate.  

Life in the kitchen without tomatoes feels a pretty awful prospect.  There are a few simple rules I observe when it comes to tomatoes. Firstly use fresh tomatoes in the natural season only, keep it really simple, add just a few top quality ingredients.  Tomatoes like salt, so use good salt, like Cornish or Maldon.  We see too much of basil and coriander, give them a miss in favour of other more imaginative combinations such as tarragon, thyme, mint & dill.  Finally my big tomato tip: in virtually all cases, except gazpacho, serve tomatoes at room temperature. They don't like cold, it siezes up the flavour and they become tasteless. 

I have just begun a venture into making ricotta. More an experimentation with different milks. I made this one with a raw buffalo milk from Alham Farm in Somerset.  A wondrous dabbling in the kindergarten of cheese making.

So with those few thoughts, a blender and a spoon of agar, I set about my ode to the tomato........ In the picture I garnished with basil oil and balsamic reduction.


1 kilo flavourful tomato, preferably on the vine or smelling strongly of tomatoes roughly chopped
1 cucumber peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed up to paste
1 red hot chilli, de-seeded and chopped fine. 
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped roughly
50ml best olive oil you can muster
10 Tbsp red wine vinegar
water to thin out to the consistency you wish
good salt and pepper

Simply blitz it in a food processor or with stick blender. Chill well. Pour a drop of oil on the top when you serve.

Tomato Jelly

500gm tomatoes
handful of herbs (tarragon, dill, mint)
a drizzle of good olive oil
1 tsp good salt
1 Tbsp agar

Whiz the tomatoes, add chopped herbs, season. 
Place in a saucepan and sprinkle the agar on the top
Slowly bring to the boil, simmer stirring occassionally for 2 minutes.
Pour into a mould and allow to set.
Serve chilled.

Tomato on crostini

Baguette sliced and toasted with a lick of oil
500gm Heirloom tomatoes de-seeded and chopped small
half red onion chopped very finely
1 clove garlic chopped to a paste
A handful of herbs
Glug of great olive oil
salt & pepper

Oven dried tomatoes

Despite the unglamorous name, these are tomato-ness itself.  Essential in using up a glut. See my previous blog post Oven roasted cherry tomatoes

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