FROM MY HEAD TO-MA-TOES

Along with bread, milk and eggs, tomatoes are a global must-have for any trolley. These colourful fruits (or veggies, depending on which side of the theoretical divide you're on), is a favourite the world over - bursting in flavour and oozing versatility. They come in hundreds of shapes, sizes, colours and varieties to suit every taste and climate. Best of all, tomatoes retain most their flavour when tinned, so you can enjoy them from a convenient can without a glimmer of regret.

BY MLIZMA KING

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Here are a few of our favourite ways to enjoy tomatoes:

Breakfast

It doesn’t just have to be bacon and eggs. It can also include plump, fresh or grilled tomatoes sprinkled with black pepper, sea salt, a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil & some crusty bread. Or you can really push out the boat and whip up a fragrant batch of Shakshuka – a North African dish of eggs in a deep red aromatic tomato sauce. This hearty dish is always a great option for a lingering weekend brunch.

Tomato Ragout

Often when one makes a hearty stew, the recipe calls for a tin or two of tomatoes, but this can easily be replaced with a flavourful tomato ragout. Another option is to use it instead of pasta sauce, or the base for your pizza. Take advantage in the summer months when there is an abundance of tomatoes. Make a nice big batch of tomato ragout and freeze it in appropriate portions. Here’s how:

INGREDIENTS

  • 60ml olive oil

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 2 onions, finely diced

  • 1 bunch of celery, finely diced

  • 4 carrots, finely diced

  • 2kgs of good quality tomatoes, fresh or frozen, roughly diced

  • A small bunch of basil

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat & sauté garlic, onions, celery and carrots.

  2. Once the veggies have softened, add the tomatoes and cook for 1 hour to allow the flavours to develop. Stir the batch halfway through.

  3. Add seasoning and basil, and blend with your KitchenAid liquidiser or blender.

  4. Allow to cool, place in appropriate-sized containers and freeze.

Top tip: These can easily be defrosted by running them under a tap and placing the contents in a small pot to defrost completely over a low heat.

Tomato chutney

This South African favourite will change the way you think about preserves. Whip up a batch to enjoy with everything from cheese platters to gourmet hotdogs. Better yet, if you can get your hands on some fresh crab meat, make this spellbinding Tomato & Crab Salad with Pesto!

Gazpacho

The refreshing Spanish Gazpacho is a summer soup that is quick and easy to make using stale bread, a handful of soft herbs, a splash of vinegar and blended-up tomatoes.

Tomato Bun Vegetarian Burger

A super hearty vegetarian ‘patty’ made with a variety of tinned beans, fresh herbs, an egg or two and some Pangritata. This is simply served on a large tomato bun and you can add your desired topping.

Bloody Marys

In the spirit of Christmas, who can resist a Bloody Mary? Frozen tomatoes, blended with a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of Tabasco, a dash of vodka, a large pinch of salt and pepper, a couple of drops of Worcestershire sauce, served with a celery stick by the poolside. Summer in a glass!

There you have it. Enjoy your tomatoes fresh during the week and freeze them the moment they start to soften. That way, you'll always have a stash of frozen tomatoes to use in soups, sauces and Bloody Marys! This festive season, let's celebrate the art of reducing and reusing. Cheers!