The time we have been waiting for all summer has arrived. The tomatoes have ripened and we are enjoying them with nearly everything. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We grew 15 varieties of tomatoes this year, all selected for their flavour rather than prolific production or uniform size. The names are curious but in fact somehow apt when you see the fruits – Bottondoro, Mountain Magic, Fandango, Liguria, Ox Heart, Moon Glow….They’re all shapes and colours, red, orange, pink, and yellow .
We let the tomatoes ripen on the vine, this guarantees that they are bursting with flavour and not all picked at once. There’s always a bit of a wait for the tomatoes to ripen but we are usually still picking them in moderation well into the autumn
Each variety has merits, the Bottondoro – orange cherry tomatoes are delicious roasted , we’ve been spooning them onto and over things with a dollop of creme fraiche. The Fandangoes, Ox Hearts and Moonglows have been cut into a chunky dice and consumed with just a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sherry vinegar and salt. They don’t need any fancy treatment.
We’ve also made pasta, stews, soups, risottos and most of all ‘pan con tomate’ the Spanish go to breakfast.
Pan con tomate is toast rubbed with a smidgeon of garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and tomato, which is rubbed on the toast or grated.
Grating tomatoes is a very useful kitchen trick. Simply take a large ripe tomato, cut it in half and grate it flesh side down, over a bowl, on the coarse side of the grater. The result will be a fresh tomato passata in the bowl and a tomato skin in your hand. Just bin the tomato skin and the tomato is ready to use.
Here is a recipe for a Greek dish, using grated tomato. Prawns with Ouzo and black olives are the original incarnation but Ouzo, which is a Greek aniseed flavoured aperitif can be replaced with whatever you have in the drinks cupboard. I use Pernod but brandy or white wine would work too.
This is delicious mopped up with bread but it could be served with basmati rice or pasta for a main course. Fresh prawns would be the ultimate but uncooked frozen prawns will work too just be sure to dry them well before frying.
Serves six for a mezze, three to four for a main course
Prawns with Ouzo and black olives
• 500g fresh peeled prawns – not already cooked
• 75mls olive oil
• 1 small onion
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2-3 large ripe tomatoes – about 500g
• a good pinch of dried oregano
• a small glass of Ouzo or Pernod
• 1-2 tbs black olives
• salt and black pepper.
• chopped flat leaf parsley
Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic.
Cut the tomatoes in half and grate on the coarse side of the grater, holding the skin side. Discard the skins
Dry the prawns on a little kitchen roll.
Heat a small frying pan, add the olive oil then the prawns. Cook for a couple of minutes until the prawns just change colour. Lift out of the pan and put aside.
Fry the onions until they begin to soften then stir in the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add the grated tomatoes, oregano and the ouzo or Pernod. Let the sauce bubble up and reduce for a few minutes. Stir in the prawns and black olives then cook for anther three to four minutes. Take off the heat, season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley.
We are now taking bookings for the autumn cooking classes, if you would like to liven up your culinary repertoire check out the list and give me a shout if you are interested. The classes are listed in our advert opposite and on our website.
Enjoy the autumn days
Lettercollum Kitchen Project,
22 Connolly Street,