Summer is the best time to enjoy tomatoes - ripe, red and bursting with flavour! Scroll down for tips and recipes ideas.
In the beginning
The slow journey that brought the tomato to our tables began
in Peru when a wild ancestor of the fruit made its way north, several
thousand years before the Spanish launched exploratory expeditions to
The earliest mention of the tomato in European literature was
by Matthiolus in 1544 who referred to them by the name of pomi d'oro,
or "golden apples", referring to the yellow tomato which was eaten in
Italy with oil, salt and pepper.
Red tomatoes were introduced to Italy by two Roman Catholic
priests. In Spain the tomato went by the name pome dei Moro (Moor's
apple) and in France it was called pomme d'amour or "love apple". Trust
the French to take one look at that red orb and immediately suspect
aphrodisiac properties deeply imbedded in the succulent flesh.
The first cookbook to mention tomatoes was published in
Naples in 1692. With their instinctive distrust of vegetables, the
English remained aloof for at least another 60 years! And it was only
in 1758 that a tomato recipe was printed in the wonderful British
cookbook, 'The Art of Cookery' by Hannah Glass.
Today, happily, we're spoilt for choice. Colours and variety abound:
green, yellow, pink, oxblood red and even black. As do shape and size:
round, oval, elongated or ribbed. Some are sweet, some are tart...all
Quick recipe ideas:
Tomatoes and tuna:
Cut a circle around the stalk of a firm
tomato. Remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Cube 100 g raw tuna,
quick-fry the pieces in a little olive oil, fold 1 T chopped parsley
into the tuna, season to taste with salt and freshly ground black
pepper and spoon into the tomato. Place under the grill for 3 minutes
and serve with a small rocket salad.
Prepare a tomato for stuffing as above,
and lightly cook in a warm oven for about 5 minutes. Break an egg into
each, season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Return to the
oven for about 5 minutes. Enjoy with a thin slice of toast.
Roasted cherry tomatoes:
Toss 400 g cherry tomatoes with 1 T
olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for about 10
minutes in a warm oven until the skins begin to split. Remove from the
oven, throw in a handful of freshly chopped basil and spoon over
grilled fish, warm pasta, or fresh salad.
Thickly slice a couple of tomatoes, sprinkle
with a little salt and allow to rest for a few minutes to extract
excess liquid. Drain the liquid before layering the tomatoes onto
sliced buffalo mozzarella slices and heaps of freshly chopped basil
leaves. Season, and spoon a soupçon of olive oil over the salad. Enjoy
with a small, chilled glass of sauvignon blanc.
And of course, the first and last word in tomatoes has to be
To keep six people happy you'll need about 1 kg wonderfully
tender stewing lamb, gently braised in 3 T olive oil, some chopped
leeks, a handful of chopped parsley, a little garlic, about 4 peeled
and sliced Mediterranean potatoes, a couple of glasses crisp,
low-alcohol dry white wine (one for the cook), and naturally, a few
peeled and de-pipped tomatoes. Add all to the lamb, top with a little
water (if needed) and simmer over a low heat until the bredie is rich
I never keep tomatoes in the fridge; rather out on a sill in the sun. They ripen beautifully and are delicious when sun-warmed.
Remove the pips from tomatoes and use only the flesh in a chicken dish. It's the pips that cause the dish to become "sour".
10 recipes to try with tomatoes:
Make a basic tomato sauce with herbs for the freezer.
Spice up your breakfast with these Moroccan tomato eggs.
Check out our blogger Janice Tripepi's slow roasted cherry tomatoes.
Beautiful homemade tomato chutney.
Try these cheese and herb stuffed tomatoes on their own or as a great accompaniment.
Serve with a juicy rump steak.
Serve this delicious tomato and bacon quiche for a tasty brunch or light dinner.
Mop up the tasty juices of mussels in garlicky tomato broth with some crusty bread.
Try a cherry tomato and chorizo pasta for some punch.
Make your own tomato and salami pizza in no time.