Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Adieu to the tomatoes

In the beginning... Every variety was grown from seed.

Only three weeks ago this was what my tomato crop looked like. In the trug are Tigerella, Black Russian, Brandywine, Sungold, Suncherry, and Black Cherry.

Summer is really over.

I know this not because the clocks have gone back and my calendar says so, but because my seemingly endless supply of beautiful ripe tomatoes is limping towards it’s inevitable end. The cucumber plants we were growing in the greenhouse have already met their maker. The vines, despite looking almost entirely dead for several weeks, valiantly continued  to produce increasingly misshapen (but still delicious) little fruit until the weekend before last when we finally had to admit defeat, dig them up and put them on the compost heap.  The rest of the tomato plants will be following soon (some have already gone). What fruit still remain on the outside vines are struggling to ripen, though amazingly, the smaller ones in the greenhouse are still turning red.

This week in the greenhouse. Small Tigerella tomatoes are still ripening. 
I don't think these Brandywine will ripen.

Now I have so few tomatoes left I have come over all reverent towards them. Below are two ways to make the most of the last few in a delicious and slightly more autumnal way.

The World's Greatest Sandwich.
Not pretty, but utterly delicious. If I had one tomato left in the world this is how I'd use it. The sandwich only requires a smear (literally), but that smear of acidic tomato cuts through the fattiness of the ham and is essential. The ham is horribly expensive but a little goes a long way and the pig's acorn diet gives it a completely unique, nutty, sweet flavour.

The Catalan.

Dark rye sourdough bread, an acidic tomato, a clove of garlic, your best olive oiljamón Ibérico de bellota.

Rub the bread with the garlic, then smoosh on (this is a technical term) the juice and seeds of the tomato and discard the skin.

Drizzle olive oil on both pieces of bread, lay the ham in a single layer, top with your other piece of bread. Perfection. 

Pickled Tomato Confit

At this time of year a fresh tomato salad feels wrong, but a pickled salad almost like a confit with a woody herb like rosemary seems suitably seasonal. The vinegar turns the onion a beautiful magenta so it looks lovely too. Serve on it's own, smeared on toast, with cheese - it's particularly good with a chalky goat's cheese, great in a steak baguette too.

You will need:

1kg of small tomatoes 
2 medium red onions 
2 tblsp demerera sugar
4 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
4 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Cut your tomatoes in half if they're cherry sized and into 4 if they're any bigger and scoop out the seeds.

Lay them skin side down on an oiled baking tray (use half the oil), season and roast at a very low temperature 110c for 2-3 hours until soft.

Turn them over halfway through to allow any juices to drain away. Allow to cool.

Finely slice the red onions and soften in the remaining olive oil with a pinch of salt and the rosemary.

Once softened add the sugar and vinegar and simmer until reduced and syrupy.

Allow to cool slightly and gently stir through the tomatoes.

Admire the colours. 

Pickled tomato confit.


  1. You've made me want to go off and indulge in a tomato fest! Lovely blog, look forward to future posts.

    1. Thanks so much, very glad you enjoyed it. Brace yourself for the rest of my veg garden...

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