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The best thing about the summer is access to really good tomatoes. Not the bland, red pucks from supermarkets but luscious cherry red orbs that cry out for a little salt and pepper and olive oil, and which taste of long summer evenings and cool glasses of crisp white wine. Granted, you can get your hands on some fairly decent tomatoes out of season for a price, but they don't taste half as good as something grown in your own backyard. Or something that you could realistically pass of as having grown in your own garden if you had the wherewithal to think about planting some back in April and remembered to water them more than once.
This year I am prepared. The tomato varieties have been carefully selected. The little tomato seedlings are being nurtured and watered and are almost ready to be transplanted out into the great outdoors. In turn, I have been compiling my favourite tomato recipes that I will making with my glut of tomatoes come August. Here goes:
- GAZPACHO: another summer staple where, if the tomatoes aren't top notch, there is no point. Nigel suggests topping it with crumbled boiled egg, I would go for a little crab meat.
- PAN CON TOMATE: so easy to make and, if the tomatoes are faultless, amazing. Saunders frequently reminisces of tapas from summers past, declaring that this is his absolutely favourite breakfast. I have never actually seen him eat it for breakfast but maybe this summer.
- PANZANELLA: in the height of summer I can live off this stuff. Luckily the Guardian has a panzanella edition of its "How to make the perfect..." series for me to brush up my technique between summers. I am happy to sling, in heathen fashion, garlic, anchovies and capers into the mix.
- KETCHUP: if there's a real glut, I might even be tempted to whip up a batch of slow roasted tomato ketchup. Life does seem a bit short to compete with Heinz but, if the harvest is plentiful and the tomatoes super sweet, this might get a look in.
- TOMATO SAUCE: how original and exciting. Yes, yes, I know. But pop it in the freezer and this will be the gift that keeps on giving well into dreary November.
- GREEN TOMATO FRITTERS: just like at the Whistle Stop Cafe (if it's good enough for Paula Deen), to be accompanied with green tomato chutney naturally. We will inevitably also sling any green tomatoes into a pickle press just to see what happens...
Any more tomato-based suggestions welcome.