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Seasonal Cooking: Tomatoes

September 8, 2009

market and tomatoes

Visit your local greengrocer or farmers’ market to take advantage of plentiful (and cheaper than usual) tomatoes. Here’s what I’ve been making in the last week:  recipes for instant suppers and long-lasting storecupboard goodies.


Easy Gazpacho (serves 4)

I became addicted to ice-cold Spanish gazpacho soup after tasting the best ever version at a roadside café in Gaucin, Southern Spain. The secret lies in using sherry vinegar – most English cookery books state red wine vinegar. It’s very quick and easy to make: all ingredients are whizzed in a blender.


1. Rough cut the following and whizz in a blender:

250g fresh tomatoes (better the flavour; better the soup)
1 medium red pepper
Half medium onion
Half cucumber (you can peel this, I don’t bother)
Large clove of garlic or 2 small
1 thick slice white bread (you can use up stale bread)

Then add:
450ml ice-cold water
Few pinches of sea salt
Pinch or two of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil (see tomatoes on flavour)
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar (* see below)

Leave in the fridge for half hour before serving (or 15 minutes in the freezer if you’re in a hurry). Will keep in the fridge for about 2-3 days.


Secret ingredient

* Valdespino Vinagre de Jerez – buy from:  Fine Cheese Co. (£4.50), Brindisa, Borough Market and at Papadeli in Bristol  (£6.95)





Zingy Tomato and Ginger Pasta Sauce (serves 4)

This is one of my favourite quick (and unusual) suppers – based on a recipe River Café Green recipe.


1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1 red chilli
2” piece of ginger peeled and chopped roughly
Juice 1 lemon
Parsley (or basil)

1. Sauté onion in olive oil and then add garlic, chilli, ginger for a further 5 minutes gentle cooking.

2. Add tomatoes and lemon juice, simmering for a further 15-20 minutes.

3. Whizz in a blender and return to saucepan to warm through.

4. Add few pinches sea salt and 4-5 twists of black pepper along with chopped herbs.

Serve on spaghetti with grated Parmesan.


Tomato Chilli Jam

(makes 3-4 medium jars – the squat 0.25l Kilner jars are perfect for this)

basket tomatoes

After serving this at the Rough Guide to Food book launch, I’ve been asked many times to put this recipe on the blog. A great way to enjoy summer tomatoes even in the gloomy winter months. I recently found an old-ish (2 years?) jar and it tasted great. This recipe is based on one in Tamasin Day-Lewis’ excellent Good Tempered Food book.


1kg ripe cherry tomatoes
4 red chillis
8 cloves garlic
3” piece of ginger
40ml Thai fish sauce
600g caster sugar
200ml red wine vinegar

1.    Puree the following with a blender: half the tomatoes, chilli, garlic, ginger and fish sauce. Place in a saucepan.

2.    Add sugar and vinegar to the pan. Bring mix to the boil and turn down to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.

3.    Add quartered tomatoes.

4.    Simmer for about 20 minutes or until it appears to be setting (test this by putting a little of the mix on a saucer and leaving in fridge for 5 minutes).

5.    Pour mix into sterilized glass jars (I wash the jars and leave in oven upside down for 10 minutes at about 150 ºC and then boil the lids on the stove for about 5 minutes). Cover with waxed discs and lid. Leave to cool before storing in the fridge.

tomato chilli jam

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