Season’s of mist and mellow fruitfulness . . . It all happens in this household in September. The Husband’s birthday, daughter No 1’s birthday, wedding anniversary – and this month we are finally getting away for a week, visiting friends and relatives, up and down the country. With no road trip abroad this year (just as well as I’ve now discovered my passport has run out!), we thought we would just do a mini British one so off to Northumberland, Scotland and Cumbria, testing the waters of what Britain can offer in these odd times.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (home) the garden continues to offer up its treasures and I expect when we return that we will be faced with a glut of tomatoes – green at the moment but about to turn. So having picked blackberries and sloes and various vegetables, herewith some ideas for the scarlet harvest!
Halloumi and Tomatoes Halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, and sometimes also cow’s milk. It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled.
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp za’atar A combination of herbs, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt, it is one of the world’s unique and best seasonings. It’s loaded with bold flavours and great texture
- 225g pack halloumi , sliced
- 5 cherry tomatoes , halved
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- handful mint leaves , to serve
- 1-2 tsp pomegranate seeds , to serve
- Pour the olive oil into a medium bowl, add the za’atar and stir to combine. Add the halloumi and toss in the mixture until well coated. Heat a large griddle pan. Place the halloumi in the pan and cook for 1-2 mins, then turn over and cook for a further 1-2 mins until golden brown on both sides. After turning the halloumi, add the cherry tomatoes and move them around the pan quickly so they cook all over. Transfer the halloumi and tomatoes to a plate, then drizzle over the pomegranate molasses and serve with the mint leaves and pomegranate seeds scattered over.
Semi Dried Tomatoes
- batch tomatoes (any quantity and any size, from cherry to plum)
- olive oil , for brushing and covering
- basil or oregano, for topping
- Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Halve tomatoes and arrange over a baking sheet, cut-sides up. Brush lightly with olive oil and put a small piece of shredded basil or oregano on each. Sprinkle with seasoning and bake for 2-3 hrs, depending on size, until semi-dried. Pack into jars and pour over olive oil. Use for salads, sauces, pizza and pasta. Store in the fridge for up to a week.
Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce If you really have a mountain of tomatoes (or you find them cheap at the market) you can easily double up the sauce recipe and freeze.
- 200g spaghetti or linguine
- 1 red chilli , deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 shallots , finely chopped
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- zest 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 300g tomato , diced
- 125g ball mozzarella or burrata (see tip, below), torn into pieces
- handful basil leaves , torn, to serve
- Cook the pasta following pack instructions. Meanwhile, put the chilli, shallots, oil, lemon zest, vinegar, sugar and tomatoes into a big mortar. If yours isn’t big enough, put it all in a bowl and just use the pestle in that. Add a good amount of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and bash everything together. Drain the pasta and toss together with the tomato mixture and mozzarella. Scatter over the basil and serve immediately.
- It’s worth getting hold of burrata – a softer, creamier relative of mozzarella – for this dish. It will go oozingly melty and create a sauce that clings to the pasta.
I could also give you The Husband’s recipe for tomato salsa with its secret ingredient – but then I would be forced to kill you! Shall I ask him if he wants to do a guest spot?