Tomatoes may be available all year, but the quality of those grown in the UK in summer is unsurpassed. Farmers’ markets display a bounteous beauty pageant of them: misshapen tomatoes that look like pumpkins; the silky-fleshed and saffron-coloured ones; the grape-sized, candy-sweet ones. I am always in search of the ripest, juiciest, most fully flavored fruits. They’re robust enough to eat with only some olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, but applying some heat enhances and concentrates their natural sweetness.
Sweet-and-sour heritage tomato curry traybake (pictured top)
Heritage tomatoes have complex flavors and are inconsistently formed, making this curry beautiful and interesting. Try it piled up on thick slices of sourdough toast spread with ricotta for a breakfast of champions.
Prep 15 mins
cooking 20 mins
8 heirloom tomatoescut into an assortment of shapes (wedges, rings, quarters)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seedstoasted and roughly crushed
1 cinnamon stickbroken-up
A pinch of asafetida
20 fresh curry leaves
5cm piece fresh gingerpeeled and grated
1 tsp turmeric
50g tamarind paste
2 tbsp caster sugar
nylon sev (crispy chickpea flour noodles), to serve (optional)
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Put a sturdy roasting tin on the hob and heat the oil over a high heat. Scatter in the mustard seeds and, as soon as they pop, follow with the cumin and coriander seeds, cinnamon, asafoetida and curry leaves. Add the ginger and fry until fragrant, then add the tamarind and stir in the sugar. Add the tomatoes and coat with the mixture, pour in 75ml water, season with salt to taste and gently mix again. Transfer to the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft but still holding their shape.
Scatter over the nylon sev, if using, followed by the cilantro, and serve.
Parmesan polenta with baked tomatoes and crisp capers
Polenta is a great starch for soaking up fragrant tomato juices. Make sure you serve the tomatoes at room temperature, to make the best of their flavor.
Prep 20 mins
cooking 50 mins
For the tomatoes
800g mixed cherry tomatoeslarger ones halved
8 garlic clovespeeled and bruised
Zest of 1 lemon, removed in thin strips with a peeler
sea-salt and black pepper
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp coriander seeds
½ cupsp chilli flakes
8 fresh oregano sprigs
100ml extra virgin olive oil
For the polenta
1 liter vegetable stock
150g thin polenta
80g Parmesan cheesefinely grated
60g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp capers
flat leaf parsleychopped, to garnish
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Place the tomatoes in a roasting tin with the garlic and lemon peel. Season, then sprinkle with the caster sugar, coriander seeds, chilli flakes and oregano. Drizzle over the olive oil, then bake for 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are bursting and fragrant. Leave to cool to room temperature, then lift out and discard the lemon rind.
For the polenta, bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan, then gradually add the polenta, whisking continuously to combine. Reduce the heat to as low as it will go and simmer for about 15 minutes, whisking occasionally at first, then more frequently as the mixture thickens. Whisk in butter and cheese, then season.
In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Once shimmering, carefully add the capers and cook, shaking the pan, until they crisp up. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Spoon the polenta on to a platter, top with the tomatoes, parsley and crisp capers, and serve at once.