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Wednesday 22 May 2019
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Sun-ripened tomatoes

EQUALLY delicious raw or cooked, tomatoes are low in calories and rich in vitamins A and C, and in minerals: folate and potassium. They are also a good source of the antioxidant lycopene which may protect against cancer.

There is an abundance of lovely, sun-ripened tomatoes at very reasonable prices at the markets, so make sure and pick up some this week. Always look for firm, well-rounded tomatoes free from bruises and brown spots. A good tomato feels heavy for its size indicating a juicy tomato, and it gives slightly to palm pressure.

Thin-skinned tomatoes are hard to find these days as farmers grow a sturdier skinned tomato which will withstand transport and handling from the gardens to the markets, as a result, peeling is recommended before use. In addition to our use in chokas, salsas, salads and stews, the flavour of tomatoes can be elevated to a more sophisticated plane by oven roasting. Oven-roasting tomatoes intensifies their flavour and caramelises their juices so when combined with olive oil, garlic, capers or hot peppers they make a sumptuous sauce for pasta and pizza and also preserve them for use later on in the year when the price increases.

If you want to freeze fresh tomatoes, I would suggest you steam them first and remove their skins before freezing, this locks in flavour and nutrients.

To roast tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 400F

Place 6 to 8 tomatoes, small to medium-sized unpeeled in a single layer in a baking dish, bake for 40 mins

1 clove garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp oregano

1/4 cup celery, chopped

1 small cucumber, chopped

1/4 cup sliced olives

½ hot pepper, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup chopped onion, soaked in cold water for ½ hour

1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1 small avocado, peeled and diced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro or chadon beni

Steam the tomatoes, remove skins and cool

In a blender puree tomatoes with juice, lime juice, pepper, garlic, salt, oregano and tomato juice.

Stir in the balance of ingredients. Sprinkle with olives and herbs.

Stir in avocado before serving.

Chill before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

Tomato avocado salad

4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded

½ green bell pepper

1 small onion

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp sugar

salt to taste

⅓ cup chopped chives

1 avocado cut into ½-inch pieces

1 tbs chadon beni

Finely chop tomatoes and set aside

Finely chop bell pepper and onion in a food processor

Add to tomatoes

Combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic, sugar and salt. Whisk well or emulsify with a food processor or blender.

Pour onto tomatoes add chives and stir. Refrigerate until ready for use, just about one hour.

Add the avocado, toss gently, sprinkle on chadon beni.

Serves 4

Chickpea and tomato salad

2 14 oz tins chickpeas. Drained and rinsed

4 salad tomatoes, seeded and chopped

½ cup chopped fresh herbs, chives chadon beni, basil, mint

For the dressing

4 cloves garlic

½ tsp paprika

4 tbs red wine vinegar

4 tbs lime juice

½ cup vegetable oil

1 tsp ground roasted geera or cumin

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the first three ingredients in a bowl

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender and process until well blended.

Add to channa mixture and toss to coat.

Serves 6 to 8

Herbed stuffed tomatoes

6 medium-sized tomatoes, firm and ripe

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

3 tbs chopped fresh basil

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pimento pepper seeded and chopped

Preheat oven to 350F

Cut tomatoes in half and place in baking dish cut side up.

Sauté onions in about 1 tsp olive oil until tender.

Combine breadcrumbs with garlic, onion, pimento parsley, basil, thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with olive oil until crumbs are moistened.

Press stuffing onto tomatoes and bake until tomatoes are tender about 30 minutes.

Serves 6

Tomato bruschetta

Tomato bruschetta

3 cloves garlic minced

4 tomatoes, seeded and diced

2 tbs chopped fresh basil or parsley, more to taste

2 tbs chopped celery

1 tsp chopped hot pepper

2 tbs chopped onion

Splash of white vinegar

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

10 slices Italian or French bread

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large cloves garlic

In a small bowl combine all ingredients except bread and olive oil and 2 cloves garlic.

Pre-heat oven to 400F Lightly brush bread on both sides with olive oil.

Bake for 5 minutes or until crisp and browned.

Rub one side with a cut piece of garlic.

Spoon tomato mixture over each slice.

Sprinkle with additional salt if desired.

Serve right away.

Makes 10 servings.

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