Tag Archives: tomatoes

Perfect salad for when you have the best tomatoes

28 May

You already know that I love buying and cooking and eating local food. So when Clyde Valley Tomatoes were back at my local farmer’s market earlier this month, I knew we’d be eating tomatoes all week!

I wanted to make a salad which would showcase the varieties of tomatoes.

Spring haul from farmer's market

Spring haul from farmer’s market

On the drive home I thought of a salad I used to make many years ago: fattoush. And then another tomato and stale bread salad: panzanella. I hadn’t made either for years, and started hankering for that melding of flavours and textures. Yes, these tomatoes were destined to become one big dish of delicious salad. Served with cold meats for lunch.


  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced and left in a bowl of ice cold salted water for an hour
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • a punnet or two of ripe tomatoes from Clyde Valley Tomatoes. Or perhaps about 8 medium tomatoes – if you’re using wee ones, feel free to double the quantities
  • 200g stale(ish) sourdough bread
  • 4 TBsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 TBsp capers
  • 2 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 6 TBsp extra virgin olive oil
  • small bunch of fresh basil
  1. Cut the peppers into big flattish pieces and pop them under a grill skin side up so the skin blackens. Alternatively use a toasting fork (who has such a thing these days?) and burn the skin over a gas hob, or chuck them in a hot oven. Or use a blow torch. You’ll know how you like to do it. Once the skin is black, put the pieces of pepper into a bowl and cover with cling film for 20 minutes or so.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into large chunks and place in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave to drain while you prepare everything else
  3. Cut (or tear) the bread into chunks, about the same size as your tomato chunks and put them into a salad bowl and drizzle with vinegar
  4. Drain the onion and add it to the salad bowl
  5. Add the capers
  6. By now your peppers might be ready for peeling, so peel off the black skin, or as much of it as you can and cut the pieces of naked pepper into strips. Put them in the bowl
  7. Press down on the tomatoes and squeeze out lots of juice, then put the tomato flesh into the salad bowl
  8. Add the chopped anchovies and olive oil to the tomato juice and whisk
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste
  10. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Pick off some basil leaves and tear them onto the salad
  11. Leave for 15 minutes or so at room temperature – or outside in the sunshine
  12. Serve as one of those lunches where the table is covered with bowls and plates and ashets of this and that tasty treats.

Of course you could skimp some of the steps or tweak the recipe as you go:

  • If you don’t soak the onion right at the beginning, it will taste too harsh (for my taste buds). You might prefer to use red onion, or spring onions
  • Don’t bother pouring the vinegar over the bread. I think you’ll regret missing out that step though!
  • Add garlic. In fact most recipes include garlic. I just forgot to add is when I made it and enjoyed the garlic-free breath, and how the other flavours all sung out at me
  • Add cucumber, celery, chilli, crisp lettuce
  • Omit the anchovies if you’re feeding vegetarians. Obviously!

Basically make this your own panzanella – so long as you have the very best tomatoes and some good quality bread, you’ll make something delicious.

No pictures though, we ate it too quickly!


The tomato glut

5 Sep

OK, so it’s a self-inflicted tomato glut, as I bought a whole big box of tomatoes at the farmers’ market yesterday.  Is it a farmer’s market or farmers’ market?  There seemed to be many farmers there yesterday so I’m settling for farmers’ market on this occasion.

Anyway, I was seduced firstly by some very nice bacon from the lovely Sunnyside Farm near Sanquhar (where I hope to butcher a pig later this year) and then some fresh beetroot, which I adore, and eat in vast quantities, making up for the many, many years when I refused to eat it at all, on account of its unacceptable vinegariness.  Who knew it didn’t need to come in a jar full of vinegar?

Then, just when I thought I was safe, I spied the boxes of tomatoes, with a lovely handwritten sign: Tomatoes different sizes and shapes. £3 a box.  How could I resist?

The first recipe also fortuitously made use of my birthday purchase of a large second-hand Le Creuset lasagne-style dish (bought at Garrion Bridge for only £10).  Roasted tomato passata.  Or sauce to you and me.  It’s adapted from a Hugh Fearnley Whatsinstore book.  The preserves one.  Thanks Hugh.  And Pam Corbin who actually does the preserves, and writes the recipes.  So far all the recipes I’ve tried are lush, so go buy the book, and get the original recipe, along with all her good advice on sterilising jars and all that jazz.

Roasted tomato sauce

about 1kg tomatoes

2-3 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly

2-3 garlic cloves, also peeled and sliced thinly

A few sprigs of a mediterranean herb like rosemary, thyme, basil or oregano, alternatively add a teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds.  Add some sliced fresh chillies if you want a kick, or dried chillies if you haven’t grown/bought any fresh ones!

1/2 tsp salt

a good few grinds of black pepper

1/2 tsp sugar

a serious glug or two of olive oil

Preheat your oven to GM 4, or 180C

  1. Cut your tomatoes in half, and place them cut side up in the dish.  You may end up with a couple of layers, but that’s ok.
  2. Scatter all the other ingredients over the top
  3. Roast for about an hour or so, about until your nose is telling you that there is something seriously delicious in the oven
  4. Use a large spoon to muddle the tomatoes around a bit in the pan, allowing the juicy tomatoes to dissolve some of the lovely caramelised burnty bits in the corners. Or don’t if you’d prefer not to have the richer colour and flavour in your final sauce
  5. Cool for a wee bit and then liquidise.  I put it in a bowl and use the hand-held zizzer, but you could use a proper liquidiser.  Or Pam recommends sieving it, or putting it through a mouli or a passata machine.  Who owns a passata machine?  Hands up.  Get over yourself.  Just zizz it with a zizzer and call it rustic tomato sauce.
  6. Now, I don’t bother with the whole jar thing at this stage, which seems to add a layer of complication I can’t be bothered with when I only have a weekend to play with.  (You have to put it in sterilised jars and sort of seal them, and then put them in a large saucepan of water and simmer the whole lot for a while).
  7. Pop in a labelled freezer bag, and pop the freezer bag in a suitable plastic container. Put it all in the freezer once it’s cooled enough not to defrost your freezer.

And that’s it.

I used the first batch straight away with homemade meatballs and it was absolutely delicious.

My second recipe was Tomato and Fennel Relish, but you’ll have to wait for that because I’m back in Edinburgh now and the recipe book is in the Valley.


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