I could talk for days about tomatoes and how much I love them. My biggest tip is that yes, tomatoes are available all year but they’re in season in summer and they’re so much better then. It’s also important to know that tomatoes don’t like the fridge. I keep mine on the kitchen bench. They taste better and they are also accessible as a snack – a perfect tomato can be picked up and eaten like an apple (a rather juicy one!) maybe with a bit of sea salt to bring those flavours truly to life.
Heirloom tomatoes come in so many different shapes, colours and flavours. Some taste sharp even when they’re ripe, others are sweet and juicy and fleshy. One of my favourites is the tigerella, with its red and yellow stripes. Somehow, it’s tart and sweet all at once. Perfect tomatoes don’t need to be fiddled with. Try a haphazard medley of chopped tomatoes with salt, pepper, ricotta and pecorino, or with torn basil, parsley and olive oil.
Often, I start a summer’s day with a tomato. My favourite breakfast is sliced tomato on wholewheat sourdough toast with goat’s curd, red onion and basil. We eat Greek salad a few times a week at my place: I toss chopped tomatoes with dried oregano, big wedges of feta, cucumber and olives. Panzanella is a great way to use up ripe tomatoes or you can turn them into a super simple pasta by smashing or roughly chopping them, softening them in a pan with garlic and extra virgin olive oil, then adding freshly boiled pasta, torn basil and parmesan cheese. So easy, so good. Ripe tomatoes are also great in my Moroccan spicy eggplant dip.
I love the smell of tomato plants in the garden – that ripe, green scent is like nothing else. Cherry tomatoes are the easiest to grow and you can get a decent crop from just one pot. They’re a great introduction for kids, who will pick and eat them on the spot. Better them than the birds! I’ve got one more great tip. My kids love tomatoes but they’re don’t like soggy sandwiches so we pack their lunchboxes with sliced tomato in a separate container.