The fruits of late-summer love
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