yay tomatoes

Good tomatoes are delicious and juicy and bursty with flavour. Bad tomatoes are watery and floury and not worth the effort unless you plan on cooking them and/or slathering them with melted cheese (aka pizza).

When buying tomatoes, I always aim to get little cherry ones or heirloom varietals, as these tend to have the most flavour. Heirloom varietals are awesome because they look pretty AND it is important to support biodiversity in our food chains AND they haven't been bred specifically over time to produce the maximum yield and minimum taste (like a lot of the tomatoes you find at the supermarket).  

Another handy tip is to never ever put tomatoes in the fridge if you're planning on eating them fresh. When you refrigerate tomatoes they get sad and will loose their taught juicy texture. 

The absolute best way to enjoy fresh tomatoes is with a bit of olive oil and salt with fresh bread or crackers, or with a cheeky bit of burrata if you are feeling indulgent.

Here are a couple of other ideas:

 

SIMPLE SUMMER SUGO

 

INGREDIENTS

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

800g chopped tomatoes (take the cores out) OR 2 x 400g cans tomatoes

1/4 cup basil leaves

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 

METHOD

Place all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and purée with a hand wand blender to form a smooth sauce. 

 

This simple sauce is perfect as a light tomato sauce with fresh pasta, and can be used as a base for lasagne, parmigiana and other tasty bakes. It is incredibly good baked with gnocchi and fresh mozzarella (thank you Kaprica for inspo here). 

 

 

PANZANELLA

 

Serves 6-8 as a side

Ready in 20 mins + standing

 

INGREDIENTS

.2 kg tomatoes, cored and cut into bite-size chunks, or halved cherry tomatoes

2 tsp salt

1 loaf ciabatta, torn into bite-size chunks

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced

2 tbsp capers

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

ground black pepper, to taste

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 rounds fresh burrata or mozzarella, torn into bite-sized chunks

about 40 basil leaves

 

METHOD

Combine tomatoes and salt in a large bowl and allow to stand for at least an hour while the tomatoes release their juices.

 

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Place torn ciabatta in a large bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil and toss well to combine. Sprinkle with a little salt to taste. Toast in hot oven for 10-15 minutes until chunks are lightly toasted on the outside, you want them to be crispy but not too tough!

 

Heat remaining 1/2 cup olive oil in a pot and gently fry the garlic, capers and chilli flakes for about a minute to soften, taking care not to burn the garlic. The aim here is to infuse the oil with the aromatic flavours. 

 

Mix oil into the tomatoes with the vinegar and pepper. Just before serving, add all remaining ingredients and toss to combine.