Nigel Slater’s tomato recipes
With the autumn glut comes a final chance to enjoy homegrown tomatoes as the main event in stews and curries, by Nigel Slater
It is now, as the summer dips into autumn, that tomatoes are at their best. They are the last few hauls of home-grown fruit before the plants wither to a crisp and head off to the compost. A bit of a mixed bag to be honest, but I like that. The chance to match up the tiny Sungold, Green Zebra and those fat yellow fruits with their flashing of carmine. The opportunity to marry the sharp with the oversweet, the pear with the cherry, the green with those on the verge of breakdown. All up-and-comers are welcome.
I threw odds and sods from the trays at the greengrocers at a vegetable stew last week, spicing the rust-coloured slush with chilli, turmeric and garlic, then stirring in a spoonful of sticky tamarind paste to give a lift to the imbuing late-summer sweetness. I griddled courgettes, currently cheap as chips, and added them at the last minute so they maintained some texture. We passed the big bowl along the table, a last dinner in the succumbing sunlight, everyone dipping into rice studded with cloves and cumin seeds, then spooning over the spiced tomato stew.
I like the route bread soaks up the tomatos juices, be it in an Italian pappa al pomodoro, the soft-textured soup-salad; a Provenal pan bagnat( more tomatoes than tuna for me, please) or a simple breakfast of grilled tomatoes on white toast, the leading edge of the bread smoked from the grill, then soaked with tart juice. I made a plate of sandwiches this week, too, stimulating first a basil, olive oil and garlic paste to use in lieu of butter. Better, I guess, was the one I induced afterwards utilizing coriander, chillies and yogurt a sort of fresh chutney really.
A pinch of sugar will sort out any end-of-season fruits that let you down. Add it with the salt and black pepper. Even the meanest shake of caster will do more than you might imagine. I like to cook a dish of halved fruit of all shapes and sizes, their surfaces spread with a loose dressing of garlic, olive oil, a splashing of red wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar and a fistful of mixed fresh herbs. The trick is to make the paste runny enough to baste the tomatoes as they roast, and have something under them to mop up the juices a raft of toast or flatbread, or a slice of focaccia. Its the tomatos final fling.
Courgettes and spiced tomatoes
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