My photo

Friday 2 August 2019

What to do with all those tomatoes? (Inspiration needed)

Just a small selection of this week's bounty.

Following last year’s ‘What to do with all those courgettes’ post, I thought I’d do the same with tomatoes – except this time with more of a plea for ideas.

Here’s what we normally do with all our toms:

Eating fresh and uncooked
We eat lots of lovely fresh tomato salads, obviously. This tomato and pomegranate molasses salad from Sabrina Gayhour’s Persiana cookbook is one of my favourites. I’m also very partial to eating a just-picked tomato, still warm from the sun, cut in half and sprinkled with crunchy Maldon salt. Heaven.

Bruschetta. Skin and deseed the tomatoes, then dice. Mix with chopped garlic, torn basil, olive oil, salt and pepper, and serve on thick slices of toasted (good-quality) bread, drizzled with more oil on top.

This spicy tomato and pepper dip (Ezme) is delicious with bread and other dips, like cacik.

Gazpacho. This cold tomato and cucumber soup is perfect on a baking-hot day, served with giant fried croutons on the side. We use the recipe in our old Moro cookbook, but this Felicity Cloake version looks pretty similar. Eat and think of Red Dwarf (Dwarfers will get it).

Cooking with tomatoes
Thinking about it, in the summer, we mostly use our tomatoes fresh and uncooked. When we do cook with tomatoes, it tends to be a simple pasta sauce, with skinned, chopped tomatoes, basil and garlic. Or I’ll sometimes make this tomato and sourdough soup from Ottolenghi, if we’ve got more tomatoes than we know what to do with.

Cooking with tomatoes tends to be a winter thing for us. In which case, we use our processed, frozen tomatoes. Which brings me to…

Preserving for the winter
We don’t bottle our tomatoes (i.e. preserve in jars, with all that heat-processing malarkey), because I’m still scared of dying from botulism. (Although, I don’t know why. We bottled and heat-processed some peaches last summer and they were both delicious and non-lethal.)

Instead, we cook a massive batch of tomatoes down, say, once a week – without faffing around with skinning or deseeding first, just roughly chop and bung them in a big-ass pan. Simmer until the mixture has reduced down to a consistency that’s perfect for stews, curries, soups, etc. This takes an hour or two, depending on how much mixture you’ve got in the pan, size of pan, and so on. Then we blend it up and sieve off the skin and seeds. And voila, homemade passata. We ladle the passata into food bags (each bag being enough for one batch of soup or stew or whatever), label the bags and store in the freezer. You’re probably only supposed to keep this sort of stuff in the freezer for a few months, but we have no problems storing frozen passata for up to a year.

Rob also makes tomato ketchup every year (using this recipe, but doubled). It’s runnier than shop-bought ketchup, but very tasty.

Every couple of years, I also make some chutney with tomatoes, apples, pears, onions and various spices (sometimes dates, too). But we so rarely eat chutney, I’ve still got jars on the shelf that are years’ old. Let’s just say there’s no need to make chutney this year…

I'm also toying with the idea of drying tomatoes in the sun, then storing in oil. Anyone done this?

What do you do with your tomatoes? What tomato recipes couldn’t you live without? And what’s your favourite way to preserve all that sunshine for the winter?