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Tomato Party!

Tomato party

This dish celebrates all the juicy tomatoes we’re picking in our garden at the moment. We only had red ones when we made this but a week before we had a glut of yellow toms too. It doesn’t matter which you use, they’ll all taste great.

Wine suggestions: We have tried a couple of very successful wines with this dish, but the trick is to make sure the wine has a slightly higher acidity and good minerality; try smaller, quality winemakers and this will be a good guide. Successful wine matches have been Umani Ronchi’s Vellodoro Pecorino and Casal di Sera Verdicchio – both great matches, Joguet’s Chinon Cuvée Terroir (delicious Cabernet Franc), and the Gulfi Cerasuolo from Sicily.

Tomato Couscous – serves 4

  • 125g couscous
  • olive oil
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 150g fregola (giant couscous)
  • 300g medium vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 150g yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped oregano
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped mint
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small green tomato, cut into thin wedges
  • 100g tomberries or halved cherry tomatoes
  • salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3.

Put the couscous in a bowl with a pinch of salt and drizzle of oil. Pour over the boiling water, stir and cover the bowl with cling film. Set aside for 12 minutes, then remove the cling film, separate with a fork and leave to cool.

Put the fregola in a pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 18 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Leave to dry completely.

Meanwhile, spread the quartered vine tomatoes over half of a large baking tin and sprinkle with the sugar and some salt and pepper. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and some oil over the top. Place in the oven. After about 20 minutes take the tomatoes out of the oven and increase the temperature to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Spread the yellow tomatoes over the empty side of the baking tin. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Return the tin to the oven and roast for 12 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.

Mix the couscous and fregola in a large bowl. Add the herbs, garlic, cooked tomatoes with all their juices, the green tomato and tomberries. Very gently mix everything with your hands. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper and olive oil as needed.

(Original recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2010.)

Burnt Aubergine salad

Not quite a Baba Ghanoush, but you can drizzle on some tahini paste to make it one. This was really delicious and we loved the freshness from the lemons and the burst of fruity pomegranate. You need to start this many hours in advance but the process is very straightforward and the result is worth it.

Burnt aubergine with garlic, lemon & pomegranate seeds – serves 4 as a meze plate

  • 4 large aubergines (about 1.5kg before cooking)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 80g of pomegranate seeds (about ½ a large pomegranate)

If using a gas hob, line the base with foil and keep only the burners exposed. Put the aubergines on 4 separate moderate flames and roast for about 15-18 minutes or until the skin is burnt and flaky and the flesh is soft. Use metal tongs to turn them now and then.

Alternatively, score the aubergines with a knife in a few places, a couple of centimetres deep, and place on a baking tray under a hot grill for about an hour (we do ours on a gas barbecue). Turn them every 20 minutes or so and continue to cook even if they burst.

Allow the aubergines to cool slightly, then cut along each one and scoop out the flesh and divide it into long strips with your hands. Throw away the skin. Drain the flesh in a colander for at least an hour or longer if possible to get rid of as much water as possible.

Put the aubergine in a medium bowl and add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, ½ a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Stir and allow the aubergine to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, mix in most of the herbs and adjust the seasoning. Pile onto a serving plate, scatter on the pomegranate seeds and garnish with the rest of the herbs.

We served ours with some barbecued flatbreads.

(Original recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem, Ebury Press, 2012.)

Marinated Tuna with Cherry tomato salsa

Tuna steaks are definitely at their best when seared on a hot barbecue. The marinade would also work well with other firm fish fillets such as swordfish or kingfish.

Wine suggestion: we think a light bodied red would be a treat here which goes against traditional pairings. The trick is to get a lighter body and lower tannins. We drank a Beaujolais-Villages from Domaine Rochette, a delightful wine which balances it’s lightness with an obvious care from the winemaker and good fruit from the vineyards; polished and elegant as well as joyfully youthful.

Paprika- and Oregano-Marinated Tuna with Cherry Tomato Salsa – serves 4

  • 4 x 150g fillets of fresh tuna
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for cooking
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked spanish paprika
  • lemon wedges, to serve

For the Cherry Tomato Salsa: 

  • 250g cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 long red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper

Put the fish in a shallow non-metallic dish. Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano and paprika. Pour this over the fish, cover with cling-film and refrigerate for half an hour.

Preheat the barbecue to high and brush lightly with olive oil. Barbecue the fish for a couple of minutes on each side (longer if you prefer the fish well done).

Toss all of the ingredients for the cherry tomato salsa together and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the fish with some salsa over the top and a lemon wedge.

Tomato & Cheese tart

 

Tomato & cheese tart

One of those easy dishes that just bursts with fresh flavours and vitality. It really sings at the end of  summer with fully ripe and juicy tomatoes just picked and wonderful. Delicious served warm or at room temperature.

Wine Suggestion: We’d serve a classic chianti where the acidity of the Sangiovese grape works really well with the tomatoes but isn’t too heavy a red for the dish (don’t bother with the Riserva).

Cheese, Tomato & Basil Tart – serves 4-6

  • 1 shortcrust pastry case, cooked ‘blind’

FOR THE FILLING: 

  • 10 ripe tomatoes, halved widthways
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml double or regular cream
  • 2 tbsp torn or sliced basil
  • 150g Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4.

Put the tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the sugar and ½ tsp salt. Bake for about 45 minutes or until completely soft and browning at the edges. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes or until golden. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk the eggs and cream together in a bowl, stir in the basil, and season with salt and pepper.

Spread out the fried onion in a layer in the tart case. Top with two-thirds of the cheese, then arrange the cooked tomatoes on top. Pour in the egg mixture and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top and just set in the centre.

(Original recipe from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, Harper Collins, 2013.)

Basmati rice with orzo

Such an impressive and versatile rice dish. Great with Middle Eastern-style food or indeed anything you deem rice an appropriate side for. We served with these delicious meatballs.

Basmati rice & orzo – serves 6

  • 250g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 85g orzo
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt

Wash the rice well, then put in a large bowl and cover with lots of cold water. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain.

Heat the ghee or butter and oil on a medium-high heat in a medium heavy-based saucepan. Add the orzo and sauté for a few minutes, or until the grains turn dark golden. Add the stock, bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes. Add the drained rice and salt, bring to a gentle boil, stir gently, then cover the pan and simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes. Don’t lift the lid during this time!

Take the rice off the heat, remove the lid and quickly cover with a clean tea towel. Put the lid back on over the towel and leave for 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork before serving.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012.)

Sicilian fusilli with tomato, garlic & almond

We love the combination of anchovies and almonds in this pasta sauce – a Sicilian-style pesto. It also reinforces our desire to go to Sicily.

Wine Suggestion: A fresh and dry Italian white is a must for this dish with numerous choices working well. If you can find one match it with a white from the slopes of Mt Etna which will be minerally and savoury, or if not a dry Vermentino from the Tuscan coast. We drink a glass of the Morisfarms Vermentino which was both minerally and nutty with fresh citrus flavours. Morisfarms add 10% Viognier to this wine which gives it an added exotic lift and roundness to the wine. With the complex savoury notes of the dish the savoury and nutty wine worked a treat.

Sicilian pasta with tomatoes, garlic & almonds – serves 6

  • 500g fusilli lunghi (long spiral pasta) or other pasta – we used regular fusilli
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 25g golden sultanas
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 x 15ml tbsp capers, drained
  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 60ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • leaves from a small bunch of basil (about 20g) to serve

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water according to the pack instructions.

Make the sauce as the pasta cooks by putting all the ingredients, except the basil, into a processor and blitzing until you have a textured sauce.

Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of the cooking water and add 2 tbsp of the water to the processor as you pulse the sauce.

Tip the drained pasta into a warmed serving bowl. Pour over the sauce and toss to coat – add a bit more pasta cooking water if needed and scatter with basil leaves.

(Original recipe from Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson, Chattos & Windus, 2012.)

Eastern Mess

 

Eastern Mess

Still an Eton Mess really but the rosewater, pistachio, raspberry and basil combination is delicious!

Eastern Mess – serves 6

  • 600ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • the seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • 6 ready-made meringue nests, broken into large pieces
  • 450g raspberries
  • handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 75g pistachio nuts, chopped

For the raspberry sauce: 

  • 225g raspberries
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar (or more if your raspberries are very tart)
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Whip the double cream, icing sugar, vanilla seeds and rosewater together in a mixing bowl until you have soft peaks (about 3 minutes but watch it carefully).

To make the sauce, mash the raspberries to a purée with the icing sugar, rose water and lemon juice in a bowl until the mixture is totally smooth. Pass through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Layer the cream, meringues and raspberries on a large serving plate, drizzling the sauce and scattering over the basil and pistachios as you go. Decorate the top with a drizzle of sauce, and a final scatter of basil and pistachios. Serve immediately.

(Original recipe from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2014.)

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