July and August are the main months for this wonderful vegetable – apart from potatoes, I don’t think there is a more versatile one, both in their uses and varieties. And they are now everywhere! Still green in my garden – I’ve got them in pots and hanging baskets – everywhere else from your favourite supermarket to farmers’ markets to the corner shop is selling them. I eat the little ones like grapes – and love the huge ones to cook with. So a quick run down of the different ones you can get –
- Beefsteak: these are the biggest tomatoes and have a meaty texture with sweet, mellow flavour. Good for salads, grilling or stuffing
- Salad (or round): this is the traditional British tomato – a good all rounder
- Cherry: small and very sweet with an intense flavour. Good in salads, pasta sauces or roasted
- Plum: available as a baby or full-grown tomato, they are an oval shape with a rich flavour and comparatively few seeds. Good for making sauces and stews.
- Green: there are 2 types – one is unripe and quite tart but good for chutneys or fried. The other is a variety that stays green when ripe and has a tangy flavour.
- Yellow and orange : great in salads for colour!
And what to do with them? You can eat them raw, fried, roasted, stuffed; make sauces or soups; add them to just about any stew you want to make!
These are 3 stuffed recipes to try – one with a sauce you could also make for pasta. By the end of the season, when every home grower is no doubt fed up with them, I will give you some chutney and soup recipes you can make and store/freeze.
Stuffed Tomatoes (1) Fish
- 6oz cooked leftover salmon fillet, flaked
- 1 tbsp shredded smoked salmon
- 1/2 tbsp ready-made mayonnaise
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- splash balsamic vinegar
- 2 large firm tomatoes (I would use beefsteak ones), cut in half from top to bottom, seeds removed and reserved
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the inside. Lay cut side down on some kitchen paper. In a large bowl, mix together the flaked salmon, smoked salmon, mayonnaise, garlic, ketchup, scooped out tomato flesh and balsamic vinegar until well combined. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and pile back into the tomato shells, using the tops as lids.
Stuffed tomatoes (2) – meat
- 2 – 3 beef tomatoes
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 125grams lamb mince
- 15 grams fresh breadcrumbs
- 150 grams button mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- salt and pepper
Sauce: 4 medium tomatoes, cut into quarters 25ml rapeseed oil 1 garlic clove chopped
Preheat the over to 200oC/Gas6
Slice the tops off the beef tomatoes, reserving the tops as before. Scoop out the flesh and put in a saucepan. Mix the shallot, mince, breadcrumbs, mushrooms and tarragon in a bowl. Season. Stuff the tomatoes with the mince mixture (do not overfill as the mixture will expand when cooking and split the skin) , drizzle with oil and place the lids on top. Place the stuffed tomatoes in the oven and bake for 10 – 15 minutes.
Sauce: Put quartered tomatoes into a saucepan, plus the flesh from the beef tomatoes. Add oil and garlic, season and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Place the baked tomatoes on a serving plate and drizzle over sauce
Stuffed Tomatoes (3) Veggie
You’ve probably got the gist of this now – cut off the tops, scoop out the insides and bake in the oven for about 10 – 15 minute at 190 – 200oC. So veggie ones are just the same – but the beauty of these are you can use anything you like! Any chopped up (small) vegetables; left over rice, quinoa or couscous, herbs (parsley, mint or basil ), garlic (of course). Put all the ingredients you want in a bowl with the scooped out flesh, mix well and put back into the shells. You can put the lids back on or top them with breadcrumbs and or cheese.