Summer tomatoes



Tomatoes reveal their full flavour when picked ripe and stored at room temperature. To enjoy truly ripe tomatoes, try growing your own at this time of year. Warmed by the summer sun, picked fresh from the heavily scented bushes, the unexpected intensity of the flavour explodes in your mouth. This is how tomatoes should taste. Buy these kinds of tomatoes from local farmers markets where they have been transported when just picked.

The next best thing is to choose from the many varieties of tomatoes available commercially. Specialty tomatoes are available from your local greengrocer and even the large supermarkets.

Heirloom tomatoes are becoming increasingly popular, as they produce more interesting and flavourful crops. Try these served simply with a drizzle of good quality olive oil and a splash of aged balsamic vinegar. Add freshly torn basil and some buffalo mozzarella for the perfect insalata caprese.

With around 7500 varieties grown for various purposes, it is important to choose the right tomato for the job. Oblong shaped plum tomatoes have traditionally been used for sauces and tomato paste, due to their higher solid content. They are perfect for the tomato and apple paste recipe below. Try thin-skinned beefsteak tomatoes in sandwiches and baguettes. Small sweet cherry tomatoes are great tossed in salads. I have used them here to make a quick sauce with pasta.

Store tomatoes for 1-2 days in a cool area. If you have to, tomatoes can be refrigerated for 4-5 days, but the flavour will be affected.

Always let tomatoes come to room temperature before using in salads to really enjoy

a little slice of summer.


Sweet tomato and apple paste

This fruity jam has a sweet/ savoury flavour, with an intriguing hint of tomato. You can cook it until quite thick, like a traditional fruit paste, or have more of a jam-like consistency. Be careful; as it thickens it will bubble and spit, so protect your hands when stirring.

Enjoy it with a cheese platter or use as a condiment for grilled snags.


2 kg ripe plum tomatoes

1 kg granny smith apples

500g sugar

grated rind and juice of  1 lemon


Roughly chop tomatoes. Peel, core and chop apples.

Place tomatoes and apples in a large pot and cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes until softened. Remove from heat and pass through a food mill (mouli) or blend with a stick blender. Return tomato and apple pieces to the pot. Bring mixture to the boil and boil for 30 minutes or until the mixture had reduced by half. Be careful as the hot mixture bubbles and spits. Add sugar, lemon rind and juice and stir to dissolve.

Cook over a low heat, stirring regularly until mixture is very thick.

Spoon paste into warm, sterilised jars and seal.

Store in cool place for up to six months.

Makes approximately 4 cups.

Orrechiette with cherry tomatoes, basil and pinenuts

Enjoy the many varieties of sweet small tomatoes available, chopped into a rough and ready sauce.

400g orrechiette pasta

40g butter

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

3 punnets cherry tomatoes, cut in half

½ (half) cup toasted pine nuts

1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

320g jar marinated goat’s feta (or substitute fresh ricotta)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season


Bring large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook pasta for 10 – 12 minutes until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a pan and cook garlic for a few minutes until golden. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes until they start to soften and break up.

Add cooked pasta to pan.

Scatter over pine nuts, basil and crumbled feta and toss to combine. Season with extra black pepper.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.


White beans and spicy chipotle tomatoes on toast

A quick supper with a spicy Mexican kick from chipotle chilli. Use a spicy chorizo if you like it hot, or leave it out for a vegetarian option.

Chipotle chillies in adobo are available at specialty stores and some supermarkets. They are a pantry staple if you like real Mexican food.


2 tbsp olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1 chorizo sausage (optional)

2 x 400g tin good quality cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

500g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 chipotle chilli in adobo sauce, chopped

4 thick slices good quality sourdough toast

handful fresh coriander leaves, washed and picked

Heat oil in pan, add garlic and cook for a minute or so until golden.

Peel skin from chorizo and break into chunks. Add to pan and cook for a few minutes.

Add tomatoes and chilli. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to break down and make a sauce. Add drained beans and stir through.

Pile onto sourdough toast, garnish with coriander and serve.

Serves 4.