CookingFoodLockdownRecipes

Tomato Plant Frenzy

We all know how the song goes, “You say tomato, I say ..?” But were you one of those people that just had to grow tomato plants during lockdown? Having a tiny seed and watching it spring to life by just adding water kept the nation occupied during those lockdown weeks. Some people even managed to grow tomatoes just from the seeds of the little round red juicy things they kept in the fridge!

So what to do now if you have a mountain of tomatoes piled up?

Summer is the season when this gorgeous, juicy fruit livens up your plate. And I don’t just mean sitting on a pile of leaves at the side of your dinner! We all love a nice Greek salad oozing with flavour but below are some recipes to tantalize your taste buds and offer some different ways of using up your new delightful crop.

I do feel those in the Mediterranean know how to use tomatoes and that’s why they have such great dishes like Pan con Tomate, Tabouli and Panzanella to make them the star of the show.. Have a look at these recipes and see if you would like to try them and if you have a great tomato recipe then please share 🙂

Panzanella is one of the most famous Italian salads, originally a dish from the ‘poor man’s kitchen’ made with stale bread, ripe tomatoes and other leftovers. Today it has become a classic, tasty salad and ‘a guaranteed success’ at the lunch or dinner table. I find I can either add more ingredients and turn it into the main dish, or eat as a side salad. We’ve been so lucky in Southsea this Summer with the amount of sunshine we have had and sometimes on a Summer’s evening all you want is a nice piece of chicken with a beautiful, light salad on the side. So Panzanella really creates everything I need on a warm evening, not to mention it’s a little different from the usual lettuce, tomato and cucumber. It lasts for a few days in the fridge and you can really use up a heap of tomatoes in this recipe. I love all the fresh flavours together!

Stale bread needs to be used in this dish and ideally, the bread needs to be good artisan bread, like Sourdough or Ciabatta. The tomatoes have to be ripe to make this dish right. Once you’ve made this dish once and got the hang of it, you can add other leftovers to make it more personal. I love the saltiness of the capers and then the fruity taste of the tomatoes in this dish. Personally, I like to swap out the basil for rocket as that’s what Dan at the Southsea Deli does, but you can stick to basil if your prefer 🙂

To make this recipe extra special you could pop to the deli and pick up a good vinegar for the recipe and also the Isle of Wight tomatoes they sell; they have an unbelievable taste so if you run out of tomatoes you can always buy from there. It’s quite a simple recipe, so good ingredients will make the difference. But if you feel short on time, you can pop to the Southsea Deli and pick up a portion that’s already prepared of Dan and Gillian’s amazing version of this dish!

Here is the basic recipe.

PANZANELLA 

Next up is Tessa Kiros’ baked butter beans with onions, tomatoes and parsley. This recipe comes from the ‘Falling Cloudberries’ book which has been a staple in my kitchen for the last 15 years. I love Tessa’s style as having a Cypriot father and a Finnish mother and then opting to marry an Italian, you really do feel the influences of where Tessa’s cooking style has come from.

I like this dish because it is either great with fish or meat but can also stand alone as a vegetarian dish with either some great bread or crisp green salad. You have to peel the tomatoes in this dish but I feel that is what makes it worthwhile; seeing the tomatoes you have grown getting that final bit of love and care before enjoying them.

Baked Butter Beans with Onions, Tomatoes and Parsley 

Who can resist a good Tabouli recipe? Imagine as a starter on some toasted bread, or as a side to sit along with other dishes like hummus to create a mezze. 

Tabouli 

Having one night in the week where you decide to eat vegetarian is something a lot of people are trying at the moment. This recipe from Nigella sorts out dinner and uses up your tomatoes. The recipe says use cherry toms but you can just use the tomatoes you have grown and it will be fine – or taste even better!

Nigella’s Tomato Curry With Coconut Rice 

Jamie Oliver’s Veggie Al Forno allows you to show off all the colours of your tomatoes. It’s a vegetarian dish with a colourful mix of ingredients, and it’s really delicious.

Photo Credit to Jamie Oliver

Jamie’s Veggie Al Forno 

This recipe is on page 34 of the ‘Jamie Cooks Italy’ book 

Serve 8-12 
2 hours and 18 mins  

Ingredients 

vegetable oil for frying 

3 mixed colour courgettes 

3 aubergines 

100g plain flour 

5 large eggs 

1 bunch of fresh basil 

50g Parmesan cheese

100g smoked mozzarella cheese (Scamorza)

4 large, ripe, mixed tomatoes 

SAUCE 

1 onion 

2 cloves of garlic 

olive oil 

75G green olives 

2 x 400g tins of good quality, plum tomatoes

METHOD 

Preheat oven to 180c.
For the sauce, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic then place in a medium size pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. De-stone and tear the olives, then cook for 5 mins or until softened stirring occasionally. Scrunch in the tomatoes through your hands to break them up, swirl a splash of water around each empty tin and toss into the pan. Then season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until needed.

Meanwhile pour 2cm of vegetable oil in a large, wide, sturdy pan on a medium heat. Let it warm up while you slice the courgettes and aubergines 1cm thick. Put the flour into a shallow bowl with a pinch of seasoning. Beat the eggs with a pinch of sea salt in a separate bowl. In batches, coat the veg slices in the flour then dip in the egg. Let the excess drop off and carefully lower into the hot oil. Cook until golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and refresh the oil when needed.

Fan a layer of aubergine over the base of a deep 23-inch springform cake tin or baking dish. Pick over some basil leaves, spread 2 spoonfuls of sauce over the top, finely grate over some parmesan and then add slices of the smoked mozzarella cheese. Fan a layer of courgette and repeat the process until you have used everything up. Slice the coloured tomatoes and layer on the top. Press down to compact then drizzle with some olive oil and season from a height. 

If using a baking tin, wrap the base in tin foil to catch any juices and sit on a baking tray. Bake for 30 mins or until golden and bubbling. Remove and leave at room temperature then release and serve, adding remaining basil for garnish. 

Enoy! 

Feature Photo by J. Kenji López-Alt

By Louise O’Brien