The tomato botanically known as a berry type fruit is also considered to be a culinary vegetable it belongs to the nightshade family and was at one time called the poison apple. In the 1700’s many aristocrats got sick and died after eating tomatoes the actual truth of the matter was that because tomatoes are so high in acidity and the wealthy ate off pewter plates the fruit would leach lead from the plates and the many deaths were from lead poisoning not from eating the actual tomatoes.
This is pretty much why I don’t buy tinned tomatoes any more as the coating inside the tins reacts with the acidity of the tomatoes which then leaches nasties into the tomatoes so similar scenario to all those years ago except it is now manufacturers who are poisoning us by their actions.
I make my own and it is so very simple to do… I choose the ripest, sweetest tomatoes and blitz them in my food processor…freeze them in portions and no nasties. Cheaper by far and healthier it takes me 20 mins to make enough portions for the month ahead. Simples!
Tomatoes can be eaten raw, sun-dried, pickled, cooked so many ways to enjoy the tomato, they come in many colours particularly the Heirloom variety which is growing in popularity and usually grown organically or by small companies so as of yet are not widely available everywhere.
I have heard they come in black, brown, ivory, purple, blue, pink as well as the red, yellow and green varieties …Have you seen or tried black or blue tomatoes???
Living here and not being able to buy sun-dried tomatoes I have resorted to drying my own and they are very nice …Hubby made me a little wire cage and I just sit them in the sun and watch the magic happen. Some fresh rosemary and a good olive oil and I am in foodie heaven.
Of course, I have to mention that they also make a damn good Bloody Mary…Just saying…
- 3 ¼ cups of tomato juice
- 1 ¼ cups of vodka ( or thereabouts) Hic
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tbsp horseradish
- 2 tsp Tabasco sauce or peri peri sauce
- 2 tsp Lea & Perrins sauce ( Worcestershire sauce)
- ½ tsp celery salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 stalks of celery with leaves.
Combine everything together in a jug or cocktail shaker and TASTE… this is where I adjust and give it a tweak or two…I make my own tomato juice and as tomatoes vary so does the TASTE….It is a fine art and needs much testing to get this just right …
Chill in the fridge until required… this recipe makes about 6 glasses.
Add some ice to a chilled glass and fill with the Bloody Mary mix…pop in your celery stick and a slice of lime and or some olives and if you are feeling really …well… If you have some bacon to use up then crisp it up and stick a slice in with the celery… Anything goes when I am making cocktails.
A lovely vibrant salsa or a topping for a bruschetta or just sliced with mozzarella cheese, some good olive oil and some fresh basil and you have a wonderful little snack.
Chilli? well, I couldn’t do a post without using a chilli or three and they are red… Chilli and Tomato Chutney is a wonderful thing.
This lovely vibrant chilli and tomato chutney gets hotter the longer you keep it if it lasts that long..but is lovely with cold meats, cheese, hot sausages, Pork Pies or just use as a glaze over your meat when you are cooking it or your prawns…it is lovely on your BBQ prawns.
- 500 gm of mixed tomatoes..some can be green.
- 4 large red chilli..deseed if you don’t want your chutney too hot or maybe just reduce the chillies.
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced.
- An inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 300 gm of sugar golden or brown.
- 100 ml red wine vinegar or balsamic.
- 2 tbsp of fish sauce.
Skin the tomatoes by putting in hot water. Then add to the food processor with the chilli and ginger.
Blitz…I love that word…
Then put in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the sugar, fish sauce and vinegar and bring it to the boil slowly so as not to burn the mixture, keep stirring and then lower heat and let it simmer for 25-35 minutes or until the mixture has gone slightly darker and sticky.
Pour into warm sterilised jars with secure lids.
I turn my jars upside down to get rid of any airlocks until cooled.
This will get hotter the longer it is kept although it doesn’t last that long in this house and by the time my friends have begged a jar from me…They normally return the empty jars hoping I will give them a full one in return…lol
Did you know ??? The tomatoes scientific name is Lycopersicum which translated is Wolf Peach…
Just some words of caution tomatoes are acidic and as with anything moderation is advised because it may cause heartburn in some individuals.
My recipe for tomato sauce for spaghetti Bolognese or lasagna.
- I kilo minced beef or pork
- 1 large onion chopped
- 250 gm mushrooms sliced
- 3/4 cloves garlic
- 5/6 Fresh Basil leaves.
- 2 bay leaves
- 500 gm fresh tomato pulp
- 2 tbsp tomato puree.
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp Worcester sauce
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- 1 tsp sage.
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a glug olive oil in a pan and saute onions and garlic.
Add the mince and cook until browned
Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes then add tomato puree and mixed herbs, bay leaf, oregano, balsamic and Worcester sauce.
Cook on a slow simmer for 20 minutes and then add mushrooms, cook for another 10 minutes and stir in fresh basil…
N.B. I always add extra herbs depending on what fresh herbs I have…I think herbs and spices are down to the individual as we all have our own preferences so I say taste and adjust as necessary.
This sauce can be served with pasta of your choice if making lasagna then you will need to make a white sauce.
To make lasagna start with a layer of mince then pasta sheets, Then meat sauce, white sauce, pasta until you have completed 4 layers finishing with the white sauce.
Grate over your favourite cheese… I use cheddar or a mix of mozzarella and cheddar.
Cheese can be difficult to get here so if I have plenty then I also use some cheese between my layers for a cheesier lasagna.
I think lasagna is the type of dish where anything goes really sometimes I add bell pepper to my sauce it depends what I have in my larder.
Cook lasagna on 180 degrees for 30 minutes or until pasta is cooked and cheese is golden and bubbling.
Serve with mixed Salad and or Garlic bread.
Lastly, did you know that on the last Wednesday of August in a little town called Buñol just outside Valencia in Spain one of the highlights of Spain’s Summer Festival is La Tomatina Tomato fight and they use at least 245,500 lbs (110,000)kg of tomatoes and have a massive tomato fight… anything that moves gets pelted. I bet that is fun though have you ever been to a tomato fight???
That’s all, for now, I hope you enjoy the recipes and don’t forget ..tomatoes lose their flavour if you store them in the fridge.
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Have a great weekend everyone I hope the weather is kind to you…Until next time xxx