food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes

saffron cauliflower + tomato, onion and roasted lemon salad

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Here are 2 salads from the master of salads, Yotam Ottolenghi. Serve them as part of a mezze selection or as side dishes.

Cauliflower is so versatile. In this recipe from PLENTY it’s paired with raisins and olives.

Preheat your oven to 200ºC (390ºF). Soak 1½ teaspoons of saffron strands in a little boiling water and allow to infuse. To a large salad bowl add a medium cauliflower (broken into florets), 1 large sliced red onion, 100g (3½ oz) of moist of sultanas, 90g (3¼ oz) of pitted green olives, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 bay leaves and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add the soaked saffron and toss everything to combine. Transfer to a baking tray, cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. I uncovered the tray for some of the cooking time to allow the cauliflower to brown a little more. Allow to cool a little and stir in 4 tablespoons of roughly chopped parsley.

This unusual tomato, onion and roasted lemon salad was published by bon appétit.


Preheat your oven to 160ºC (325ºF). Halve and thinly slice 1 small lemon and cook the slices in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, pat dry and toss with 1 tablespoon of finely sliced fresh sage leaves, ½ a teaspoon of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread them onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake until they are dry and slightly coloured. Allow them to cool. Meanwhile, whisk 2 teaspoons of pomegranate syrup with ½ a teaspoon of ground allspice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add 700g (1½ lbs) of mixed tomatoes, ½ a finely sliced red onion, generous amounts of roughly chopped fresh parsley and mint and the cooled lemon slices. Season again to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss gently.

Written by michelle picker

August 7, 2017 at 5:44 am

fine dining and tomatoes

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christian-etienneProvence has the most sunshine in France which is probably why the tomatoes here are so abundant and fragrant. When I dined at Christian Etienne, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Avignon, I was excited to see a 7-course tomato menu.

Unfortunately, in my excitement, I failed to photograph the first course, a ceviche of smoked mackerel with a Black Russian tomato sauce and puffed corn. Delicious!

Next, a trio of tartare of tomatoes with basil. The yellow one made with pineapple tomatoes, the red with Beefheart tomatoes and the green with Green Zebra tomatoes. Amazing flavour.


The third course was a wonderfully prepared fillet of red mullet over an olive and coconut brandade, with cream of salted garlic, tomato foam and cherry tomatoes. I suspect the garnish might have been sprouted black onion seeds.


Next, what was called a tomalafel. This was a wonderfully crisp tomato felafel served with a sauce of olive oil, lemon and fresh mint and yes, tomatoes!


The meat course was a perfectly cooked cutlet of local lamb with an amazing jus. It was served on a tomato concasse and with an eggplant caviar and parmesan crumble.


The sixth course which (in my haste) I once again failed to photograph, was a lovely fresh chèvre (goats cheese) from the Drôme region, served with chives and Andes Horn tomato crackers.

And finally, dessert. A Pomme d’Amour (Love Apple) cooked in sugar syrup and served on a pistachio mousse with crispy puffed rice and a tomato coulis……

Pomme-d'Amouraccompanied by a Marmande tomato sorbet and caramelised pistachios.


marinated tomatoes teruel

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The remote and mountainous Spanish town of Teruel is not only known for it’s Moorish architecture but is also renowned for it’s jamón serrano (cured ham). This salad would make a fitting accompaniment.


Slice 3 very large ripe tomatoes and arrange them in a single layer in a shallow serving dish. In a bowl combine ⅓ of a cup of olive oil with ¼ of a cup of sherry vinegar (try to use sherry vinegar if at all possible otherwise substitute red wine vinegar), ¼ of a cup of finely chopped red onion, 2 tablespoons of drained capers, 2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley, 1 large minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of crumbled dried basil, and ¼ of a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Mix well then spoon the dressing over the tomatoes. Cover and chill for 3 hours before serving.

* recipe found here

Written by michelle picker

April 1, 2015 at 5:58 am

celery and tomatoes

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Celery was a vegetable I used to avoid but it’s becoming a favourite, especially with tomatoes.

An Asian stir-fry of celery, asparagus, onion and tomatoes.


Finely dice 2-3 cloves of garlic and a similar amount of fresh ginger. Slice a few sticks of celery into diagonal slices, trim and slice a bunch of asparagus into shorter lengths and cut 2-3 tomatoes and an onion into thin wedges. When you’re ready to cook, heat a wok until very hot and add some peanut or other vegetable oil. Fry the garlic and ginger for only a few seconds and immediately add the celery and asparagus. Make sure to stir everything continuously as this ensures that everything cooks evenly. After 2-3 minutes, add the onion for 1 minute and then the tomato. When the tomato begins to soften add 1-2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, a teaspoon of sesame oil and some ground white pepper. To make this stir-fry a little spicier add some Sriracha chilli sauce as well.

This Italian method for cooking celery makes a perfect side dish.


Place 1-2 cans of chopped tomatoes in a shallow saucepan with a few cloves of crushed garlic and a generous lug of olive oil. Cover and cook over low to medium heat for approximately 20 minutes. This will sweeten the tomatoes and should thicken them a little. Add chopped celery and fresh parsley. Season to taste and cook for 15-20 minutes more or until the celery is to your liking.

Written by michelle picker

February 6, 2015 at 5:42 am


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This pesto and tomato bruschetta and caramelised onion and blue cheese bruschetta are equally good for lunch or a light evening meal.


Make sure you have crusty Italian bread. For each bruschetta peel and finely slice 2 brown onions and dice 2 cloves of garlic. Cook them over low heat with a generous amount of olive oil, stirring occasionally until they are much reduced and beginning to brown. Add 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar for every 2 onions. Continue to cook, stirring more often, until they are quite dark brown then set aside. Meanwhile cut some ripe tomatoes (1 per person) into wedges. Put them in a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place in a hot oven and roast until they begin to shrivel and brown. For the tomato bruschetta, you will also need pesto. You can use a store-bought pesto or for a home-made one follow my recipe here. When the bread is toasted spread half with pesto, lay the tomatoes on the pesto and top with some mozzarella and pecorino cheese. Spread the other half with caramelised onions and dot with pieces of blue cheese (gorgonzola or stilton). Place the bruschettas under a hot grill until the cheeses have melted. Serve the onion bruschetta garnished with fresh roquette.

sweet corn bake

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Golden and cheesy on the top, the centre of this bake is reminiscent of a soft corn tamale studded with juicy sweet corn.


Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Fry 1 large chopped leek, 1 diced green pepper and 2 finely diced green chillies in some vegetable oil until just starting to soften. Cut the corn from 3 fresh corn cobs and add to the leek, cooking for a few minutes more. In a bowl combine this mixture with 2 cups of small-curd cottage cheese, 1 cup of mik, 2 large eggs, 1 cup of masa harina suitable for making arepas (this is flour made from roasted white corn and is available at Spanish and South American stores), 1 teaspoon of baking powder and half a cup of  grated easy-melt cheese such as Colby. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Pour the mixture into a greased oven dish and bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.

To accompany my corn bake I made this amazing quick tomato relish or salad from a recipe by Christine Manfield published by Gourmet Traveller.


Heat 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat in a fry-pan and add  1 teaspoon each of cumin and brown mustard seeds. When they sputter add 4-6 chopped tomatoes and stir. Now add ½ a teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of ground coriander, 1½ teaspoons of chilli powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of white sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes but don’t allow the tomatoes to break down completely. Serve garnished with fresh coriander.

caramelised-bacon-and-pepitasAnd last but not least, this crunchy and decadent topping or accompaniment  of caramelised bacon and pepitas is from a recipe by Matt Preston. 

In a fry-pan cook 60g (2 oz) of bacon (cut into strips) until browning. Add 60g (2 oz) of pepita seeds and cook for another minute before adding 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Cook until the sugar melts and coats the seeds and bacon. Delicious with anything!

Written by michelle picker

October 1, 2013 at 6:26 am

prawns baked with feta

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This combination of prawns with feta is a traditional Greek one which works wonderfully well.

In some olive oil gently fry a finely chopped onion with 2 cloves of finely chopped  garlic and a cup of chopped spring onions. When the onions have wilted, add ½ a cup of white wine and allow this to evaporate a little before adding a can of chopped tomatoes, ½ a teaspoon of dried oregano, some chopped fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes. In an oven dish, place half the tomato mixture, 20 – 30 peeled uncooked prawns and then the rest of the tomato mixture. Top with 100 – 150g (3½ – 5 oz) of crumbled feta cheese and bake in a hot oven until the cheese melts and begins to brown. Serve with rice and a fresh salad.

Written by michelle picker

February 7, 2012 at 10:17 am