Seasonal suppers JP McMahon on tomatoes
Last Saturday, at the Galway Market, I found myself in front of Cait Curran’s organic vegetable stand. It was bulging with so many varieties of vegetables. Summer truly is the time when vegetables get to shine and to be centre stage of our cuisine ( or so they should!).
Instead of beef, I’m thinking of courgettes; instead of fish, I’m imagining tomatoes and the beautiful possibilities that will open themselves to me when I take a bag of these multicoloured delights to the restaurant.
Though we use tomatoes all year round in our tapas bar, Cava Bodega, we hold back in Aniar restaurant for the Irish ones, which appear from early July to late August. For some reason, the tomato defines summer for me. Maybe it’s something to do with the first tomato bread I had for breakfast one morning in Barcelona. I never imagined one could eat just tomatoes and toast for breakfast. Surely you need sausages, eggs, rashers and black pudding to accompany the toast to call it breakfast? Not in Spain.
Spreading crushed or blended tomatoes on toasted bread is divine and it should definitely make your breakfast list at least twice a week in the summer.
Take a handful of tomatoes and quarter them. Make sure they’re very ripe. Sprinkle sea salt over them and dress lavishly with extra virgin olive oil. Place in a food processor with two peeled cloves of garlic, and blend. It can be as rough or as smooth as you want: it’s your breakfast.
Toast a large slice of good quality baguette and then spread the tomato over the bread. Finish with more sea salt and olive oil. Taken together with a double espresso, this has to be the breakfast of champions. You can also add cured meat or cheese to your tomato bread. Any nice salty jamón will complement the tartness of the tomato. I also like to add a hard sheep’s cheese, such as Manchego.
As for answering the question of whether you should refrigerate your tomatoes or not, the jury remains out.