I have a massive crush on tomatoes. I love them fresh, warm from the vine, when picking them means brushing against their fragrant, furry leaves. I love them in crates from the market: plump and juicy and full of promise. I love them racked up at my local grocer, different varieties in colourful piles. And I especially love them in my fruit bowl at home – not the fridge! – where they get riper and juicier by the day, begging to be used in salads, cooked dishes and preserves.
There are a million and one ways with tomatoes. Let’s see how many we can discover together…
This vlog is shot on the fly by my daughter and husband at St Kilda Farmers’ Market. Hope you enjoy the fly-on-the-wall nature of this video and forgive the glimpses of undone dishes and kitchen clutter! First of all, I visit the market and chat to tomato farmer James. Next, I bring my bounty home and turn it into amazing passata.
My version of tomato passata is very simple, which is as it should be, because it’s all about the tomatoes. Choose ripe – even slightly over-ripe – tomatoes bursting with flavour. The seeds and skin are traditionally left out of passata but I leave them in because – well, I’ve got a Thermomix. This results in a lighter, brighter coloured sauce than you might be used to.
Shorba is an endlessly versatile Indian spiced soup. It’s a stand-by meal which takes a minute to throw together. I love this soup if I’m feeling a little under the weather because it’s comforting, so simple that it can be made with a very foggy brain, and I feel like the spice hit kickstarts my body back towards health.
A classic Bloody Mary is great – a spiced tomato cocktail to kick your day off with a bang – but my Bloody Maria is next level! We bring Mexican festivity with mezcal and jalapeño peppers, dialling up the party vibes, and the addition of bacon and pickles turns a morning tipple into a substantial drink and snack.
I love this chicken dish because it’s impressive but easy, with classic pub flavours and a little extra pizzazz. Importantly, it’s the perfect dish to prepare ahead of time: make your rolls, steam your spuds, then finish it all off when your guests arrive or the family is clamouring.
Bloody Caesar is the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary cocktail and it’s usually made with ‘Clamato’, a commercial drink that combines ‘clam juice’ and tomato. My version uses fresh clam stock, reserved from steaming the clams. The clams are then used in a Thai-style salad.
A family meal that’s on the table in 45 minutes and stars two types of fab dumplings and a healthy pile of greens cooked over their own sauce. This one-pot family dinner is flexible, easy and quick and we don’t wash the bowl at all, even though we step through a few different elements. Love that!
This quick and crazy cold soup from a creative Israeli chef is an absolute winner. When people say ‘gazpacho’, they’re normally thinking of a tomato soup thickened with bread. When Israel chef Eyal Shani says ‘gazpacho’, he’s thinking of a mind-bending concoction that includes tomatoes, forgets the bread and uses a totally surprising ingredient that takes a fresh, simple soup into another dimension.
- Koshari is Egypt’s national dish, popular as a street food and sold on every corner of downtown Cairo. It’s a perfect, cheap, simple dish to cook at home using basic, accessible ingredients. Even though the components are humble, the combination is magical, as well as being amazingly filling.
- We all love pesto, right? But have you heard of the Sicilian version of pesto from the town of Trapani? It's made with almonds and tomatoes, as well as basil and hard cheese. It's easy and perfect, especially for those long weeks when tomatoes are at their juiciest.
- I love simple recipes that are more than the sum of their parts and that's certainly the case with Atlas chef Charlie Carrington's (ridiculously) Simple Shakshuka Sauce. The ingredients are basic but the slow cooking method gets all the sweetness out of the garlic and shallots creating a sauce with incredible depth of flavour.
- A quick and easy braise that's big on flavour from Malaysian cookbook author Annie Xavier. She uses pork rib pieces but you can also use chicken or even mushrooms.