I am always getting asked about the tomato and is it a vegetable or a fruit? Well actually botanically it is a fruit, but for its nutritionally value it has been categorized as a vegetable. Tomatoes have been used in cooking for centuries especially to bring out the flavour because of its acidic properties. They are also believed to benefit the heart amongst other things because they contain Lycopene, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, which are also recognised as helping to prevent prostate cancer especially when tomatoes are cooked.
Tomatoes were found to be easy to store at home in the form of a sauce or bottled and of course very easy to grow, making them a cheap meal. Spain has a large variety available in the shops and feature in many of their recipes. Spain even has a festival celebrated every year in Bunol called La Tomatina centred on an enormous tomato fight. Below are just a few recipes to try using this red cooking ingredient.
Mint Tomato with Cheese
Slice tomatoes and lay the slices in a dish. Chop garlic and sprinkle over tomatoes. Cut olives in half and add to tomatoes. Finally crumble goat’s cheese over tomatoes. Pour over lemon juice, add tea bag leaves to the olive oil and pour over tomatoes. Bake for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. A great dish with BBQ’s or salads.
Peel and slice onions and garlic and fry in olive oil until soft. Add tomato puree and canned tomatoes, then oregano and thyme. Simmer for 20 minutes until mixture thickens. Spread mixture over pizza base and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until crispy.
Tomato and Cheese Tart
Beat half the cheese with butter egg yolk and mustard. Mix into flour and then knead until smooth. Roll out pastry and line a tin. Bake at 200 for 10 to 15 minutes until set. Meanwhile skin tomatoes and cut into wedges. Whisk together the eggs, remaining cheese, milk and rosemary and seasoning. Arrange tomatoes in flan case and pour over mixture. Bake on 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve hot or cold.
Whisk eggs until broken down but not too fluffy. Season with salt and pepper. Place pan on a gentle heat and add butter and when melted add eggs. Stir gently with a fork or wooden spatula. Skin and chop tomatoes and fry in a little oil with onion (optional) and rosemary and garlic until soft. Add into centre of omelette and fold over. Serve immediately.
Tomatoes with Roquefort
Keep 4 tomatoes to one side and put the rest in a pan and cover with boiling water and leave for 1 minute. Score the skin and remove skins, dice and chop. Peel onion and garlic and chop finely. Heat oil and fry onion and garlic for 2 minutes, add seasoning and mixed herbs. Stir in the diced tomatoes and cook for a further 3 minutes. Scoop out the seeds from the 4 saved tomatoes. Crumble the cheese and stir into the tomato mix. Remove crusts from bread and crumble into the mix. Spoon mix into the tomato cases and stand in a dish with a small amount of water in the bottom. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the topping is crisp.