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Happy Easter! If, after eating all those hot cross buns and chocolate eggs, you feel the need for some vegetables……
I was looking through my recipe folder yesterday and came across this recipe. I thought it was from the Cranks Fast Food book, but on checking it, it wasn’t. So I’ve no idea where I got it from, I’ve had it years. I use it a lot and although it’s very versatile, I invariably use it the same way. More on that later. The recipe recommends using lovely ripe summer tomatoes. But I’ve never seen the point, as the fruits are cooked with garlic, balsamic vinegar and basil, so it’s not as if you’re going to be able to appreciate a good quality tomato. I always use the cheapest ones I can find, and right now, while we are still being offered rock hard, tasteless ones, this is a good recipe to make the best of them.
1kg fresh tomatoes, Asda £1.31
6 tblsp oil, £1.20/litre, 11p
3 tblsp balsamic vinegar, Asda 69p/250ml, 12p
1tsp dried basil Asda 49p/14g, 3p
2 garlic cloves 10p
Total cost £1.67
Cut your tomatoes in half and using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Depending on how hard the tomatoes are, you may need to cut the core with a knife before you can get the seeds out. Keep the seeds in the fridge and use them in the next soup you make.
Put all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix them well. Now toss the tomato halves in the mixture.
Using a slotted spoon, put them cut side up on a baking tray, in a single layer. Now using an ordinary spoon, spoon in the remaining mixture into the middle of each tomato.
I have found that doing it this way keeps the maximum flavour. Too much mixture on the outside of the tomato, or dribbling onto the baking tray means that it gets baked on and burnt in the oven, losing the flavour.
The tomatoes need to be cooked in an oven at 150C/130C fan/300F/Gas Mark 2 for up to 1.5 hours. Then, if possible, left in the closed oven while it cools. Keep an eye on them. They can go from heavenly and caramelised, to burnt, in the blink of an eye.
You could use the oven while it is cooling after cooking something else, or whilst cooking a casserole or something on a long slow cook, to save fuel. Or make 2 or 3 batches, the tomatoes keep well. Store them in the fridge in lidded jam jars or snap top plastic containers.
These delicious tomatoes can be used in many ways. When DD1 was still living at home, she loved them straight from the jar.
By far, our favourite way of using them is like this
Half a batch of tomatoes 83p
100g value soft cheese, Asda 71p/250g, 28p
100g frozen peas, Asda 78p/1kg, 8p
200g value pasta, Asda 29p/500g, 12p
Total cost £1.31, Serves 2, 65p each
Cook the pasta, when the pasta is almost done, tip in the peas and bring back to the boil. Drain well and tip the pasta and peas back into the hot saucepan.
Now stir through the soft cheese and half of a batch of tomatoes. Serve immediately.
If you have the tomatoes ready in the fridge, this meal is as fast as pasta pesto.
You could add a spoonful or two of double cream instead of soft cheese, or you could whizz the tomatoes with a handful of pine nuts or 4 tblsps of basil pesto
Add some green or black olives, chopped or whole, or some pine nuts, some fresh basil leaves, a bit of lemon zest.
Any of the above can be whizzed to a smooth sauce. You could whizz it with soft cheese and use it as a dip with crudités for a delicious packed lunch, or with pitta.
Or use a tomato or three in a salad, or as a jacket potato topping, maybe with a blob of something creamy, or some grated cheddar. Or serve with a little bit of nice cheddar and some good bread for a ploughmans.
Or how about one of those gorgeous deli platters that posh pubs do. Put some tomatoes on a platter or slate with a little dish of hoummous, a grilled fresh pepper, sliced up, some slender carrot and celery sticks and maybe some grilled Halloumi. Great for entertaining.
I haven’t got any at the moment, so a picture will follow
Happy Easter image from Google, happy-Easter-wallpapers-2