Sea­sonal sup­pers JP McMa­hon on toma­toes

The Irish Times Magazine - - FRONTLINES - JP McMA­HON

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.

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