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Friday, 24 August 2012

Tomato Sorcery!

I love this time of year as the Tomato season heads towards a glorious taste filled climax.

Naturally there are gluts of the sun drenched little fruit and preserving that glorious summer for the depths of winter becomes an imperative. Traditionally they have been dried, bottled or converted to rich fruity chutneys, even the under-ripe ones get to be Green Tomato Chutney, and modern technology allows us to freeze them whole as well.

For me, however, it is saving them as sauce that offers the widest range of possibilities. Make a couple of varieties Red and Yellow and ring the changes in dishes!

A little work now means a plethora of dishes later in the year and the possibility of using seasonal vegetables right away!

It’s a simple process that pays big rewards. Into a big pan put a little Olive Oil. A diced onion, a crushed Garlic Clove or two and a little Marjoram or Oregano along with freshly ground Black Pepper.

Sweat it for a few minutes to develop the flavours – they will help the final sauce without changing the overall tomatoiness.

Tip in the Tomatoes and heat on a low heat for 45 minutes to an hour whilst the fruit split and release that glorious sweet liquid.
Liquidise the content of the pan – I use my mighty Bamix – and then strain into another pan, turn the heat up a little and reduce to concentrate the sauce. Done!

For a really smooth sauce put the strained pips and skin into a Muslin bag and allow to drip into the reducing sauce, may as well get every last drop of summer out of the fruit.

To intensify the flavour oven roast some – or all – of the Tomatoes before adding to the pan at the beginning.

Once made the possibilities are endless: Pizza Sauce, Pasta, basis for a really rich Curry or Chicken Casserole, good old Soup or a couple of the recipes below.

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Large Banana Shallot in large ½ inch dice
1 Aubergine Diced to ½ inch or 2 Snake Aubergines sliced ½ inch wide
1 Medium Courgette (Zucchini) Try the Yellow Ones
I Red Pepper in 1 inch sections
3 or 4 Cloves of Garlic
Fresh Oregano (chopped)
4 or 5 Basil Leaves
Sea Salt and Black Pepper.
½ Pint Tomato Sauce

Fry the Shallot and Garlic gently in the Olive Oil then add the Courgette and turn the heat up a little.
Add the Aubergine and Pepper and fry 2 minutes before adding the Tomato Sauce.

Add the fresh herbs then taste and season lightly.

Cover and simmer 20 minutes, taste and season then serve in bowls with good bread to sop up the remaining sauce.


75 grams of Paella rice per person
100g cooking Chorizo in ½ inch slices, either normal or Smoked (or even both)
4 cloves of Garlic
1 large onion diced
Red and Green Peppers in 1 inch chunks (Optional)
1 tsp. Smoked Paprika (Picante for those who like a little heat)
½ pint Tomato Sauce and ½ pint Vegetable Stock to make up
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Heat the Olive Oil and add the diced Onion and Garlic. Fry for 2 minutes then add the Chorizo to release the rich oils from the sausage.
Add the Smoked Paprika and stir well to ensure blended in.

Add the Tomato sauce and allow to bubble away for a couple of minutes before adding the rice and enough Vegetable Stock to cover.
Turn down heat and cook for 18 to 20 minutes under foil, stirring a couple of times at the beginning but then leave.

You will develop a crust on the bottom called a Soccarat which is highly prized in Paella circles.

Serve from the pan with the addition of a little Chopped Parsley garnish.

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Morphy Richards

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