One vine day

The Au­gust bank hol­i­day marks our fi­nal fling with sum­mer and all its ed­i­ble spoils, not least the buxom toma­toes that have graced our plates th­ese past months. Here are five vi­brant recipes to see them out in style ...

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Anna Jones

Anna Jones’s tomato sal­ads

Today I ate toma­toes for break­fast, lunch and din­ner. Squashed on to bread with oil, salt and a lit­tle cheese on the side in the morn­ing; at lunch, in heavy wedges with a dous­ing of sea salt along­side a sim­ple chick­pea salad; and, at sup­per time, cooked down into a warm salsa to eat with potato tor­tilla.

I am in Por­tu­gal and the toma­toes here are wor­thy of all the su­perla­tives you could be­stow on a fruit or veg­etable, but at home the sea­son is in full swing too. Last week, I counted 24 dif­fer­ent toma­toes in my lo­cal (ad­mit­tedly very good) green­gro­cer, but even on the su­per­mar­ket shelves it’s pos­si­ble to find toma­toes be­yond the bog-stan­dard (which are picked un­ripe and never get to their best) or the ubiq­ui­tous vine or cherry va­ri­eties.

I am not a tomato purist: I do eat them out­side of sum­mer, and I do look for­ward to the first crop of hardy, salty, win­ter toma­toes. But, for now, I will feast on them while they are truly at their best, of­ten with noth­ing more than salt and olive oil. To fully cap­i­talise on this short time, here are a few more ideas.

One tomato salad – four ways

This is the tomato salad I make the most. Eat it sim­ply as it is or take it in one of four dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions for a bit more of a meal.

Serves 4

1kg mixed ripe toma­toes, dif­fer­ent shapes and colours Flaky salt and black pep­per

1 tbsp red-wine or bal­samic vine­gar 3 tbsp ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil

1 gar­lic clove, peeled and grated 1 fresh red chilli, seeded and chopped

1 De­pend­ing on the size of your toma­toes, slice some in half, some into quar­ters and the oth­ers into un­even chunks. Straight away, this will give you the be­gin­nings of a tomato salad that’s re­ally brave and ex­cit­ing to look at and eat. Put the toma­toes into a colan­der and sea­son with a pinch of salt.

2 Give them a toss, sea­son again and toss a few more times. The salt won’t be drawn into the toma­toes; in­stead it will draw any ex­cess mois­ture out, con­cen­trat­ing all the lovely flavours. Leave the toma­toes in the colan­der on top of a bowl to stand for around 15 min­utes, then dis­card any juice that has come out of them.

3 Trans­fer the toma­toes to a large bowl, add all of the other in­gre­di­ents and mix well. Eat just as it is or take it one of the fol­low­ing four ways.

1 Popped chick­peas and Is­raeli spice Pre­heat your oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Toss a drained can of chick­peas with a pinch of dried chilli, 1 tsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp co­rian­der seeds, salt, black pep­per and olive oil and roast them at 180C/350F/gas 4 for about 20 min­utes, or un­til crisp. Toss the warm chick­peas with the toma­toes, a finely chopped shal­lot, 1 tbsp sumac and some chopped pars­ley. 2 Sum­mer herbs, lemon and moz­zarella Pick the leaves from a bunch of mint and one of basil or mar­jo­ram. Roughly chop most of the herbs and add to the toma­toes with the zest of an un­waxed lemon and a driz­zle of olive oil. Lay on a plate next to some torn, sea­soned moz­zarella and fin­ish with a lit­tle more oil and the rest of the herbs.

3 Corn, crou­tons, lime

Set the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Tear 4 slices of bread into small pieces, toss with olive oil, salt and pep­per. Bake for 15-20 min­utes, or un­til golden and crisp. Cut the ker­nels from 2 ears of corn and add to the toma­toes with the zest of 2 limes and the warm crou­tons.

4 Goat’s curd and toasted seeds Toast 3 tbsp pump­kin and 2 tbsp sun­flower seeds in a dry pan un­til they smell toasty. Add 1 tsp car­away or fen­nel seeds and toast for an­other 30 sec­onds. Add 1 tbsp maple syrup then take off the heat. Once cool and hard­ened, roughly chop the seeds. Serve the toma­toes with a spoon­ful of goat’s curd per per­son and the seeds for sprin­kling over the top.

Grilled green toma­toes with feta and wa­ter­melon

Here I use green toma­toes, which are a ver­dant and al­to­gether dif­fer­ent af­fair from the red ones. Make sure that you use un­ripe toma­toes here – not the heir­loom green va­ri­ety, which are dif­fer­ent. If you can’t get un­ripened ones you can use red: just don’t grill them. The re­sult­ing salad will still be to­tally de­li­cious.

Serves 4

6 un­ripe green toma­toes in 1cm slices Ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 1 tbsp red-wine vine­gar Salt and black pep­per 1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced 400g piece of wa­ter­melon, cold from the fridge, chopped into bite­size chunks

1 green chilli, thinly sliced 100g un­salted, roasted al­monds, coarsely chopped

Juice and zest of 1 un­waxed lime A small bunch of co­rian­der, leaves and stalks finely chopped

200g feta cheese, crum­bled

1 Heat a grid­dle pan or grill to medi­umhigh. Brush the tomato slices on both sides with a lit­tle oil. Grill un­til soft­ened and lightly charred, which should take around 4 min­utes per side. 2 Trans­fer the toma­toes to a serv­ing plat­ter and driz­zle over the vine­gar and 2 tbsp oil. Sea­son with salt and pep­per. 3 Toss the spring onions, wa­ter­melon, green chilli and al­monds in 3 tbsp oil. Add the lime juice and zest, sea­son well, mix again, then add the co­rian­der and crum­bled feta. Toss again to bring ev­ery­thing to­gether.

For now, feast on them while they are at their best, with noth­ing more than a smat­ter­ing of salt and a splash of oil

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