The fruits of late-sum­mer love

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Front Page -

Tom­ahto, to­mayto, fruit, veg­etable; what­ever they are and what­ever you want to call them, this is the time to eat them. I didn’t like toma­toes as a child. I don’t think it was my fault; they just weren’t very nice. It was the Eight­ies and I lived in Birm­ing­ham. There were no farm­ers’ mar­kets, few proper gro­cers, and the only toma­toes in the su­per­mar­ket were large, pappy, pale red ones from Hol­land. Luck­ily, times have changed. Th­ese days even su­per­mar­kets pro­vide deep red toma­toes, ripe and de­li­cious through­out the sum­mer and beyond.

I rarely buy toma­toes in win­ter, but I of­ten reach for a tin. I know they’re pretty good year-round nowa­days, but I like to save the fresh ones for when they’re re­ally tast­ing good.

Of­ten you see jazzy-look­ing “her­itage” toma­toes. The name rather gets on my nerves, but the fruit (or veg­etable) is worth seek­ing out: th­ese are old va­ri­eties rather than mod­ern hy­brids, and they can be de­li­cious, as long as they’re ripe and sweet and care­fully grown. So do pick them up if you see them – as long as you can stom­ach the price tag.

They will work well in a raw pasta sauce like the one with an­chovies here. An­chovies pro­vide depth and savoury de­li­cious­ness; the toma­toes bring sweet­ness, acid­ity and rich­ness; and the mar­jo­ram fin­ishes with an almost musty green fresh­ness, mak­ing this a per­fect late­sum­mer dish. There are as many recipes for tomato salad as there are peo­ple who have sliced a tomato, and I now love most of them. This is one of my favourites. The al­mond sauce is un­usual and re­ally tasty (you can use it as a dress­ing for all sorts of things, or even a sauce for grilled meat or fish). I love the mix­ture of cooked and raw toma­toes; you get the best of both worlds.

Tomato risotto is a bit of an un­usual one and I re­ally don’t know why. It’s de­li­cious, and we should be mak­ing it all the time. It’s lovely ac­com­pa­nied by ri­cotta, which is clean and fresh against the rich flavour­ful rice, but you could also use moz­zarella, though you then run the risk of mak­ing some­thing that tastes like pizza rice.

Serves 4 3 tbsp ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced 10 an­chovy fil­lets, roughly chopped 500g/1lb cherry toma­toes, roughly chopped ½ bunch of fresh mar­jo­ram, leaves picked, or dried oregano 1 tbsp red wine vine­gar 400g/14oz penne

Heat a gen­er­ous splash of oil in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the garlic and fry un­til it be­gins to feel sticky, then add the an­chovies and stir un­til they melt into the hot oil. Turn the heat up to high, then stir through the toma­toes and sea­son with a lit­tle pep­per. Take off the heat and stir in the herbs, vine­gar and another good glug of oil. Leave the toma­toes to ab­sorb the other flavours while you’re cook­ing the pasta.

Bring a pan of salted wa­ter to the boil and cook the penne ac­cord­ing to the packet in­struc­tions. Drain, then add im­me­di­ately to the toma­toes. Stir well and check the sea­son­ing, ad­just if nec­es­sary. Serve with an ex­tra driz­zle of oil.

Serves 4 Salad 500g/1lb plum toma­toes, roughly sliced into wedges 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 3 tbsp olive oil, plus ex­tra to driz­zle 2 thick slices of rus­tic white bread, crusts re­moved ½ tsp smoked pa­prika 300g/10oz baby toma­toes, ide­ally a va­ri­ety of colours, halved 2 spring onions, finely sliced 1 big hand­ful of pars­ley leaves, shred­ded 1 tbsp sherry vine­gar Dress­ing 60g/2oz blanched al­monds 2 garlic cloves, crushed with a lit­tle salt 1 tbsp sherry vine­gar A squeeze of le­mon juice 150ml/5fl oz ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil

Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas 6. Place the plum toma­toes, garlic and olive oil in a bak­ing dish or tray and sea­son well with salt and pep­per. Mix ev­ery­thing to­gether with your hands, then place in the oven for 15 min­utes.

Re­move it from the oven, rip in the bread and sprin­kle with the pa­prika. Toss ev­ery­thing to­gether with a spoon so the bread ab­sorbs all the oil and juices and is lightly dusted in pa­prika, then re­turn to the oven for another 15 min­utes un­til golden. Leave to cool slightly.

Mean­while, make the dress­ing. Com­bine the al­monds and garlic to­gether in a food pro­ces­sor (or pes­tle and mor­tar) un­til finely ground. Stir in the sherry vine­gar and le­mon juice and sea­son gen­er­ously. With the ma­chine run­ning, slowly start pour­ing in the oil in a steady stream un­til it is in­cor­po­rated. Add a few splashes of cold wa­ter to loosen it slightly for driz­zling.

Tum­ble the con­tents of the bak­ing dish into a salad bowl and add the raw toma­toes, spring onions, pars­ley and sherry vine­gar. Sea­son with salt and pep­per, and driz­zle over ex­tra oil if it needs it. Trans­fer to plates and spoon over the dress­ing.

Serves 4 4 plum toma­toes 50g/1½oz but­ter A splash of oil 1 red onion, finely chopped 2 cel­ery sticks, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped ½ bunch of thyme, leaves picked 1 red chilli, de­seeded and finely chopped 200g/7oz ar­bo­rio rice 150ml/5fl oz white ver­mouth Ap­prox 1 litre of hot chicken or veg­etable stock

Red zone: clock­wise from above, raw and roasted tomato salad with al­mond dress­ing, tomato and chilli risotto, tomato and an­chovy penne

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