Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes © Robyn Mackenzie | Dreamstime.com‘Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad‘ — Miles Kington

CHOOSE
Tomatoes are currently (spring 2015) listed by PAN-UK as the very worst vegetable for absorbing and retaining pesticidal residues, so if you go organic on nothing else, go organic on tomatoes.

Avoid perfect-looking specimens! The best guide is smell. Close your eyes and inhale: they should have a fresh, grassy aroma. Choose those with stalks or vines still on. Take tomatoes out of the fridge to warm up before prepping

DISHES
Tomatoes have a particular affinity with basil, garlic, thyme and red peppers. A scattering of dried oregano produces a ‘pizza’ flavour. Simple dishes can be lovely: hot tomatoes on buttered toast; or fresh off the vine, with just a sprinkling of salt. Try:

Salade De Tomates
Chop tomatoes and shallots with olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the dressing

Salade De Tomates En Plus
Add any combination of any of the following: spring onion, garlic, capers, olives, basil leaves, croutons, mozzarella, feta, parmesan, anchovies, pine nuts, pesto, balsamic etc

Greek Salad
The Taster has it on genuine Greek authority that this is tomato, olives, cucumber, onions, green pepper, a slab of feta sprinkled with dried oregano and plenty of your finest olive oil. Capers are optional

Roast Tomatoes
Rub halved tomatoes with olive oil, season, top with ingredients as above, and braise for an hour or so. Serve with white fish, pork, bacon or lamb. Braised to the point of destruction, they will mash into a rough pasta sauce

Pan Catalan
Spread discarded tomato seeds and flesh on warm sourdough with olive oil, salt, garlic and parsley. Grill. Delicious tapas

Tomato Tart
A satisfying main course for vegetarians: spread a shortcrust pastry tart case with cream cheese, and top it with multiple layers of thin tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil, scatter with coriander, basil or other herbs, and bake until the pastry is crisp

Gazpacho
Make a cool soup of tomatoes, red peppers and cucumber. Sprinkle with herbs and salty croutons

Chutney
If you get hold of any green tomatoes, try making green tomato chutney (highly delicious)

BLT
The classic combination of bacon, lettuce and tomato, plus mayonnaise and other condiments

NOTES
Cultivated by Aztecs, tomatoes are now essential in dishes across the globe, including ratatouille, tabbouleh, pizza, many pastas and curries, and of course the Great British Cheese’n’Tomato Sandwich.
Ketchup was first produced in the 1830s and contemporary American cuisine would hardly be the same without it.
Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family and were originally believed to be poisonous (the leaves are toxic).
They are a fruit, not a vegetable.
In the past, the tomato has been known in France as a ‘love apple’ (la pomme d’amour) and in Italy as a golden apple (il pomodoro). (pomme d’amour and il pomodoro)

For a quick guide, see our Crib SheetTomato Recipes

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