Tomatoes – Part 1

It’s not always possible to find a decent tomato in the north of Scotland. Even in the height of summer, homegrown ones can be insipid and have an odd chalky texture. And raw tomatoes are one thing I’m very fussy about. They have to be good or they have to be cooked.

There will be no turning my nose up at tomatoes this summer, however. There are beautiful, ripe, flavoursome specimens to be found everywhere and I’m eating them at most meals.

This was today’s breakfast.

The tomatoes need to be ripe, the olive oil needs to be good and the flavours need some time to fuse.

Chop or slice a handful of ripe tomatoes and place in a dish. Season with flaky sea salt and black pepper. Pour over about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon of cider vinegar. Stir and leave to sit for half an hour.

Toast a bagel (or other bready item) lightly. Use a spoon to gather up the tomato-infused oil at the bottom of the bowl and drizzle evenly over bagel. Top with the tomatoes, another sprinkling of seasoning and, if you fancy, some shaved Parmesan cheese.

Also good with balsamic vinegar rather than cider vinegar.

Tomato Relish

In a parallel universe there is a Wendy who regularly sits in her garden enjoying the last of the evening sun whilst having barbeque after barbeque after barbeque.  In this reality, however, summer has been monumentally disappointing in terms of temperature and sun-appearance and this Wendy has managed to have one barbeque in two months.  And I had to wear two jumpers.

Not to worry.  In every other respect the summer has been fantastic and burgers can, after all, be cooked inside.  Recently we’ve been eating them topped with this rather lovely, chunky tomato relish.

Tomato Relish – Two Jars

(Adapted from Made at Home Preserves by Dick and James Strawbridge – lovely wee book)

125g brown sugar

200ml white wine vinegar

500g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 medium onion, chopped finely

1 tspn dried chilli flakes

1 tblspn onion seeds

1 tspn paprika

1/2 tspn ground ginger

3 tblspn capers

Approx. 4 medium gherkins, chopped finely

  • Warm the vinegar and sugar in a pan over a medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  • Add the tomatoes, chopped onion and spices to the pan and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat immediately and simmer gently for 45 minutes.  Add the capers and gherkins and stir well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour into sterilised jars.
  • Will keep in the fridge for at least six months.