Favourite Five Tomato Recipes

favourite fiveTomatoes were one of the things I enjoyed in Sicily, the area around Siracusa is famous for a variety of cherry tomato which are the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. Back at home it’s harder to find the range of different varieties and flavours, but at least those picked straight from the vine are pretty good.

Simple Tomato Salad – Simply, tomatoes sliced or cut into chunks, seasoned with a little sea salt and pepper, with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.

Tomato, Lentil and Pesto Soup – A great way to get some additional protein into little ones diets, and show off the delicious flavour of tomatoes. If I have fresh tomatoes then I use fresh, but otherwise its a can of tinned tomatoes. Cook a chopped onion until softened and translucent, add a handful of red lentils and cook for a little longer, then pour in the tomatoes (chopped if using fresh). Add a little stock, then simmer for 15 minutes. Whizz the soup in a blender and serve with a spoonful of pesto on top.

hunters chickenHunter’s Chicken – A delicious stew for a colder day which gives the tomatoes a real intense flavour. The full recipe can be found here.

Roasted tomato and Pesto Tart – Cut some tomatoes in half, splash a little olive oil over them and season with salt and pepper. Put into a roasting tin and roast until softened and beginning to brown on top. Take some puff pastry and roll it out to a couple of millimetres thick, lightly score a border around your tart and prick the centre of the pastry to ensure a crispy base. Bake in a hot oven for 20 minute, until lightly golden. Spread pesto on the pastry base, then top with the roasted tomatoes.

Catalan Tomato Bread – Pa amb tomàquet, is the classic breakfast from Catalunya, but is also a great snack. Simply toast a slice of sourdough (cooking on a griddle pan is even better), rub one side of the bread with a garlic clove, then rub with a cut tomato so the flesh and juice are absorbed by the bread. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and sprinkle with sea salt before serving.

The Simple Things

Sitting on the roof terrace of our apartment in Ortigia the other week, espresso in hand, sun on my back, and enjoying the kind of noisy peace you get in a town. It occurred to me that one doesn’t need much to be content – happy even. Around me I could hear the bickering of other people’s children, the buzz of the ubiquitous scooter down the narrow streets and the hovering of the local Nonna. But on that terrace I was at peace. All I needed was the time to sit there and let all that was around, wash over me. It strikes me that that is not a bad plan for life in general. Keep it simple.View from apartment roof panaorama

The Italians certainly embrace simplicity with their food. An octopus salad is exactly that; octopus in the form of a salad, with perhaps a little lemon juice olive oil. Famously, pizza should only ever have three topping ingredients; tomato, cheese and one other. If the produce is of the best quality, why complicate it? The core flavours sing all the better.

A simple tomato salad
Tomatoes – a range of colours and sizes are best. Tomatoes always taste better straight off the vine, and certainly when at room temperature. Don’t keep them in the fridge!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & pepper
Basil

Slice the tomatoes into fairly thick slices, before tearing a few basil leaves over them. Season and drizzle with a little good extra virgin olive oil. Serve.

I often struggle with living in the moment and keeping things simple, getting caught up in the logistics of the event or the next meal to be planned. Simple meals need less planning, yet somehow bring more joy. Sometimes the simple things are the best.