Two Fine Tomato Dishes
At this time of year, many of you may be enjoying (or suffering) a glut of tomatoes. Here are a couple of recipes. The first is for a soup which is good at any time of year, but has a beautiful summery colour. A word of warning: the tomatoes need to be quite sweet, though you could balance the flavour to an extent with a little sugar. If you don't grow your own, it is made equally well with good quality tinned tomatoes.
The second is a recipe which my good friend Christopher Trotter brought back from Lebanon, and which features in his invaluable book Tomato.
Roast Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
You may need two baking trays to contain all the ingredients if you are using fresh tomatoes.
3 red peppers, halved length ways and deseeded; 500g tomatoes, or tin of plum tomatoes; 1 large onion, halved lengthways (leave it unpeeled); 4 fat cloves of garlic, unpeeled; 2 sticks of celery, peeled and finely chopped; 450ml chicken or vegetable stock; 30g butter; 1 tsp chilli flakes; olive oil for drizzling - about 2 - 3 tbsp (use your good stuff - we recommend Orodeal); squeeze of tomato purée (optional); pinch of sugar (optional); salt and pepper.
Preheat your oven to 190˚C/Mark 5. Put the peppers and onion halves cut side down on a baking tray with the garlic cloves and the tomatoes (only if using fresh one). Drizzle well with the olive oil and bake until the peppers and onions are tender. This will take 30 - 40 minutes.
While the veg are baking, sweat the celery in the butter with a little s & p. Don't let it brown.
When the vegetables are ready remove from the oven and leave them till they are cool enough to be handled without serious injury. Remove the outer skin from the onion. Coarsely chop the onion and peppers and add to the celery. The garlic needs to be peeled too. The easiest way to do this is to snip off the top then squeeze like a tiny toothpaste tube. This too goes in the pan with the celery, as do the tomatoes. Stir in the tomato purée, if using, then pour in the stock and add the chill flakes, and a little more s & p.
Blitz with a hand blender. If it seems a little on the sour side you may need to add the sugar. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes, then sieve. Check the seasoning, heat and serve.
Christopher Trotter's Lebanese Tabbouleh
I assume you know how to skin and deseed a tomato, but if you don't, have a look at this You Tube video.The mint must be fresh (but you knew that too, didn't you?)
For the tabbouleh
400g sweet ripe tomatoes, blanched peeled, deseeded, chopped and allowed to cool; 85g bulgur wheat; 4 spring onions, finely chopped; 3 tbsp flat parsley, finely chopped (flat is traditional in Middle Eastern cooking, but you could get away with curly); 2 tsp mint.
For the dressing
1 clove garlic, crushed; ¼ tsp cinnamon; ¼ tsp ground allspice; 2tbsp lemon juice; 3 tbsp mint olive oil, which failing use a good EVOO and another half teaspooon or so of chopped mint.
Prepare the bulgur wheat as per the instructions. (Some types simply require rinsing; others need boiling water.) Allow to cool. Mix the remaining tabbouleh ingredients together. In a separate jug or bowl, mix the garlic, spices and lemon juice then whisk in the oil and extra mint, if using. The tabbouleh can be made a little in advance, but don't serve it fridge cold. Just before serving mix in the dressing.
Thanks to Christopher Trotter for permission to reproduce his recipe. Christopher is Fife’s Food Ambassador. He has produced an invaluable series of vegetable books in addition to Tomato.
For more information see his website
In addition to his writing and media work he runs cooking classes and workshops of all sizes and to all specifications.
Hi Tom, we’ll try the soup – sounds really tasty and easy and not a carb. in sight.
I have heard though, that tomatoes are not so good for joint pain – depends where you rub it in I suppose.
It’s a favourite of ours, Michael; however, as I can’t rely on getting nice sweet tomatoes, I tend to use tinned. The purists would tell you to buy San Marzano at £1.40 a tin. I use supermarket own brand, with a little sugar. Yesterday by accident I developed a rather nice carb free variation on a chicken casserole. I’ll send you the details via email.