Tomatoes are native to western South America
and are related to potatoes, peppers and aubergines. At first
they were treated with suspicion and thought to be poisonous.
Last century they became popular and were widely used in Spain
and Italy. In Britain they were promoted as the 'Love Apple'. Now
they are one of the most important fresh ingredients in the
kitchen. Recently their health benefits have been recognised.
Among the many classic tomato dishes is tomato
soup, cooked to a delicate orange colour with stock or milk, or
simmered with vegetables, garlic and basil.
Recipes "à la provencale"
indicate that tomatoes are in the dish and are used with fish,
meat and vegetables, in sauces and stuffings, with pasta and in
superb salads. The natural astringency of tomatoes means that, in
salads, they need only be sprinkled with a fruity olive oil.
Chopped tomatoes add a depth of flavour to all sorts of meat and
Chilled Spanish Gazpacho Soup
Here's a good way of using tomatoes, cucumber
and peppers in a classic soup for serving ice-cold on a summer's
- 1lb 8oz ripe tomatoes
- 4 tblspns olive oil
- Approx 4 inch piece of cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1 ½ tblspns wine vinegar
- 2 or 3 spring onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 heaped tspn fresh chopped basil
- Half a large red or green pepper, seeded & chopped
- Approx ½ pint cold water
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Salt & freshly milled black pepper
Skin tomatoes, then roughly chop the flesh,
(removing seeds if desired). Blend together the tomatoes,
cucumber, spring onions and pepper, adding seasoning, herbs, oil
and vinegar until smooth. Pour into a bowl and add the cold water
to thin the soup if necessary. Served chilled and garnish with
more red and green peppers, cucumber, parsley, etc.
Tomato Salad 'Fines Herbes'
- 8 Large Ripe Tomatoes
- 6-8 tblspn olive oil
- 8 tblspns finely chopped parsley
- 2-3 tblspn wine vinegar
- 4 tblspns finely chopped onion
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tblspn finely chopped garlic
- Vinaigrette sauce
- 2 tblspn finely chopped basil & tarragon
Peel and cut tomatoes horizontally into even
slices. Re-form and place them stem side down in a shallow dish.
Mix next 8 ingredients to form a thick, green, well-flavoured
dressing. Sandwich ¾ of the dressing carefully between the
layers of each tomato. Chill. Dilute the remaining dressing with
a well flavoured vinaigrette sauce, seasoned to taste with salt
and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon over herb-stuffed tomatoes
and serve. Serves 4.
There are many recipes for chutney; here's a
fairly straightforward one:
- 6lb ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped
- 1 level tspn cayenne
- 8 oz onions
- 12 oz soft brown sugar
- 4 level tspns whole allspice
- 1 tbspn salt
- ½ pint vinegar
Put toms and thinly sliced onions in a large
pan. Add the allspice, tied in muslin, and the cayenne and salt.
Simmer until the mixture is pulpy, then stir in the remaining
ingredients. Simmer until thick. Pot and cover.
It is easy to freeze surplus tomatoes. Just
chop them up, skinning them first by immersing them briefly in
boiling water, a few at a time. (They take up less space in the
freezer if first simmered down to a puree.) Use frozen tomatoes
in the winter instead of tinned ones. To use, drain off surplus
liquid after defrosting and add some tomato paste to thicken, if
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