Tomatoes

Local isn’t always best! Many tomatoes are grown under heated glass out of season, at huge environmental cost. When we can’t grow tomatoes at home without heat, we truck over naturally sun-ripened ones from our grower Paco Locano in Spain. In a project with Exeter University, we discovered that this uses just a tenth of the carbon compared with growing them in the UK, using heat.

Storage & prep

Will keep for a week

Storage: Keep tomatoes out of the fridge, as chilling dulls their flavour compounds. For the best flavour, keep them at room temperature and eat them when they reach peak ripeness – dark red and slightly soft. Give them some room to breathe – the cardboard punnet or ventilated plastic box they came in is ideal.

Prep: Tomato skins are the nemesis of dull knife blades. Unless your sabre is keen and razor-sharp you are best to use a serrated knife for slicing. If you are ever called on to skin a tomato then cut a shallow cross into the top and blanch it in boiling water for 30 secs. Drop into cold water and peel the loosened skins away with ease.

Cooking ideas

Breakfast: Not the grilled tomato on the Full English but rather the Spanish snack pan con tomate. Toast a slice of good bread and rub it vigorously with a cut clove of garlic. Do the same with half a ripe tomato, rub until all you have left is the skin. Sprinkle over salt and olive oil, scoff with strong coffee.
Lunch: At their peak, it’s a shame to put them in anything other than a simple sliced tomato salad. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt is really all you need. Needless to say, torn basil and ragged clouds of creamy mozzarella are classic additions.
Dinner: We all know that they can be cooked down into rich sauces and stews but they will also make a wonderful gratin, thinly sliced, seasoned with salt, pepper and oil, and alternated with layers of sliced courgette. Bake for 30 mins before topping with parmesan and breadcrumbs for a further 15.

Tomato recipe

Courgette & tomato soup

Make the most of summer's bounty with this simple, bold soup topped with basil-baked croutons. It's good both warm and chilled, and freezes well if you've got a glut of courgettes and tomatoes. Add a pinch of chilli if you're a heat-lover, or a spoonful of crème fraîche to serve.

Serves 4 - 45 min

Flavour Friends

Tomato works well with:

Aubergine

Bacon

Cheese – especially feta, Gruyère, mozzarella

Eggs

Garlic

Herbs – especially basil, coriander, mint, oregano, tarragon, thyme

Meat – beef, chicken, lamb, pork

Olives and olive oil

Salt

Spices – anise, chilli, cinnamon, clove

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