Tag Archives: Plum Tomatoes

Pizza Puttanesca

Pizza Puttanesca

We do eat quite a few pizzas at Chez Foti, probably too many. Well about once a week if the truth be known. But in my defense they are always homemade. And I’m not being a ponsey foodie by saying that. Believe me I’ve absolutely nothing against good quality take away pizza, but we do live in distinctly rural SW France and without wanting to be too rude, the quality of the take away pizzas in these parts is considerably below par. Bordering inedible. Which is a shame as the only two fast food joints in a 25 km radius both happen to be pizza take aways!. And once or twice bitten I won’t be going back. Just don’t get me started on the supermarket offerings either. Think 80s Britain, say no more. Hence I’ve become a bit of geek at homemade pizza ….. and homemade Thai/Chinese/Indian to boot!. And we do happen to have an original bread oven in our lounge that bakes the most perfect pizzas.

I love playing around with inventing toppings and this recipe so happens to be one of my favourites of the moment. Think Puttanesca Sauce but on a pizza. Puttanesca, in case you didn’t know, is a tomato based sauce revved up with oodles of garlic, anchovies, capers, chilli and olives. And it’s sublime on a pizza with the addition of Mozzarella and a little Parmesan. Pizza simplicity at it’s best.

Pizza Puttanesca

Made with Love Mondays

I’m also delighted to be entering, for the first ever time, my Pizza Puttanesca to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays, a weekly series promoting, sharing and celebrating foods made entirely from scratch. Foods without any of the nasties and all the good stuff!.

Pizza Puttanesca

Serves 1 to 2 (depending on how much of a pizza monster you happen to be!)

One quantity of Pizza Dough (I usually stick to this Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get hold of it)

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 cloves of Garlic

a Red Chili (or go wild with 2 if you like your heat), finely sliced

4 Anchovy Fillets in oil

a 400g can of good quality Chopped Tomatoes or 450g of ripe and flavoursome Fresh Tomatoes (I’m still using up my frozen stock from The Great Chez Foti Tomato Harvest!)

a very large pinch of Black Pepper

a pinch of Sugar

a dessertspoon of Capers, rinsed

40g of stoned Black Olives, halved

80g of Mozzarella cheese, finely sliced

a heaped tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Special Equipment: a pizza stone, pizza baking sheet or an ordinary baking tray/sheet

Pre-heat your oven to the hottest it will go and pop your pizza stone or baking tray in to warm up.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the chili, garlic and anchovies for a few moments  until the anchovies are almost disintegrated. Slide in the tomatoes and add a very generous pinch of coarsely ground black pepper and a small pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir. Allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

The sauce is ready when it’s considerably thickened and very flavoursome. Stir in the capers. Have a taste check adding more black pepper to suit. Obviously you could add salt but there’s a fair whack already in there from the anchovies so it’s unlikely you’ll need more.

Now for the pizza. Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Spread the puttanesca sauce evenly over the base. Place the halved olives and slices of mozzarella. Scatter over the parmesan or grana padano.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp and golden. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes and the oven at it’s hottest around 10.

Pizza Puttanesca

You might also like: 

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza            Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Pine Nuts and Thyme

Jacques mushroom picking

 


Homemade Tomato Ketchup

I was very kindly given this glorious recipe last week by a friend and neighbour of my Mum and Dads in Herefordshire, Janette. My Mum had happened to mention quite how overrun I was with all our homegrown tommies and Janette suggested I used them to make Tommie Sauce and promptly emailed me the recipe that her mum had passed on to her that she’d always eaten as a child. How wonderful is that?.

I immediately set to to make it, just in the nick of time picking the last of our beef and plum tommies and a few of the still prolific cherries, and I couldn’t think of a better recipe to celebrate the end of one extremely hectic tomatoey summer. Incase you missed reading about all our tomatoes here’s my Tomato Veg of the Month Round Up. And although the tomato season is pretty much over for most people I couldn’t help myself  in blogging it now rather than wait until next year, when undoubtedly I’ll be making many further batches!.

I should also mention that Janette is generally known to us as ‘Chocolate Janette’ as she so happens to own a small chain of gorgeous artisan chocolate shops in Ludlow, Worcester and Shrewsbury and an online business too, www.chocolategourmet.co.uk. Now that’s the sort of neighbour everyone needs!.

I have to admit to being extremely skeptical that a Homemade Tommie Sauce would meat the mark. The mark being the big H brand so known and loved. And how wrong was I? This recipe is superb, the kids couldn’t tell the difference and I would honestly go as far to say I preferred it, though it’s remarkably similar. I know we’re now at the end of the tomato year, but if you happen to come across some cheap and flavoursome tommies I urge you to make this, or bookmark it for next summer. It doesn’t take long at all, is foolproof simple and oh sooooooo good. I now have a serious addiction. In truth I’ve never been that huge on Tommie K though I do love it on a bacon butty, but now I’ve made my own it’s going on everything. I even made some homemade chips at the weekend to give it a thorough road test, and I don’t ever eat ketchup on chips. And I don’t have to tell you how good it was.

I’m not sure you can beat a bacon butty with homemade Tommie K, this was the second of the weekend!

Similarly my kids aren’t huge Tommie K addicts like some kids, but then I probably haven’t allowed them to be. It’s only ever brought out with chips, which are a pretty rare treat at Chez Foti. But now it’s on free flow they’re asking for it with everything!. It’s actually called ‘Bop Bop’ sauce in our house, bet no one can guess why?!

Jacques safeguarding his precious bottle of Bop Bop Sauce, that he enjoyed for lunch yesterday with his cheese on toast

As homemade Tommie K is technically a Preserve I’m also entering it to this month’s Tea Time Treats  challenge, and it’s certainly a popular Tea Time Treat in our house now!. The blogging event it held jointly by Karen @ Lavender and Lovage and this month by Kate @ What Kate Baked.

The recipe below is pretty much exactly how Janette emailed it to me, though I used cider vinegar instead of the malt. Not to posh it up in any way, but you can’t buy malt vinegar in France. I also used a little less sugar as I didn’t feel it needed it all, but then my tommies were extremely ripe and sweet. I skinned my tomatoes first, which is really not at all tricky. Simply immerse them in boiling water for a minute then plunge into cold for a few moments, the skins will then effortlessly slip off. I didn’t bother with the straining (actually I started then promptly stopped as I didn’t want to waste so much goodness!) but gave the finished sauce a very good blitzing with a hand blender.

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

2700g (2.7 kilos) of ripe tomatoes

570ml of malt vinegar

225g of sugar

25g of salt

½ a teaspoon of allspice

½ a teaspoon of ground cloves

½ a teaspoon of cinnamon

a pinch of cayenne pepper

Special Equipment: Sterilised bottles or jars

Skin your tomatoes if preferred.  Cut into rough quarters and simmer with the salt and vinegar until soft and broken.

Strain if you have not skinned then return the puree to the pan, add the sugar.  Continue to simmer until the ketchup starts to thicken. Then add the spices a little at a time stirring thoroughly until the flavour is to your taste. I probably added a little more of each than the recipe called for.

When the ketchup is reasonably thick pour into sterilised hot bottles or jars and seal.

Please note it will be thicker when cold than hot, so don’t reduce it too far. If you like a more rustic texture with the seeds still in the sauce miss out the straining process.

And before I go, why ‘Bop Bop’ sauce? When the squeezy Tommie K sauce bottles are coming to an end (which ours is at the minute) the kids think the sound is hilarious, like a ‘bop bop’, which in case you (probably) need further explanation the kids call a ‘fart’ or bottom. And so Tommie K has become the ‘Bop Bop’ sauce!. My kids are very little, and Bops Bops are still one of the funniest things in their worlds!

Related blogs:

August & September in the Garden

Homemade Sun (aka Oven) Dried Tomatoes

A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces

August and September Veg of the Month: The Tomato

There’s been no getting away from the summer of tomatoes at Chez Foti. A ridiculous amount. An obscene amount for a family of four. At my last count there were 72 plants, with self-seeded newbies appearing every day all over the plot, like some tomatoey horror B movie. I need to stop counting them! They’ve taken over my life these last few months with many an evening spent chopping, blanching, saucing, souping, chutneying or drying. Chez Foti’s been a bit of a tomato processing plant at times. The new and especially purchased chest freezer is now full to the brim. But luckily the harvest’s finally starting to subside, and will totally subside when the frosts start, probably very soon. And then it’ll all be over, bar a mountain of green tomatoes, until next year. And next year, mark my words, I will not be growing so many. No where near as many.

Of all the veggies (or indeed fruits) to have a glut of, tomatoes have to be the most versatile and useful, and can handily be cooked down to make all manner of wonderful sauces and soups to bring out all year round. And believe me I’ve made a few!. Here’s my favourite recipes for a glut:  A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces (so useful to store in the freezer for pasta or pizza sauces), Homemade Sun Dried Tomatoes (I urge you try to these if you’ve a few tommies going spare, they’re truly sublime beyond sublime!), One Pot Ratatouille (can handily be frozen too). I’ve also been making many a tommie soup, though as yet haven’t blogged any recipes. One of my favourite recipes is Felicity Cloake’s Perfect Tomato Soup from the Guardian website. To be honest I reckon most people would struggle to beat this recipe, it’s totally the most perfect tommie soup you could wish to eat, aside from Heinz obviously.

Homemade Sun Dried Tomatoes

A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces

One Pot Ratatouille

Tomatoes have featured in pretty much every evening meal we’ve eaten at Chez Foti over the summer. And indeed many a breakie (tommies on toast!) and many a lunch (think soups, sandwiches, salads, tarts). Here’s my favourite dinner time tommie treats: Garden Pasta, Spaghetti alla Puttenesca with Fresh Tomatoes, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, A Couple of Tomato Tarts, Roasted Veggie Lasagne, Couscous with Roasted Veggies & Feta, Cheese, Tomato & Courgette Bread & Butter Pudding.

Garden Pasta with Griddled Courgettes, Cherry Tomatoes & Feta

Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

As for the umteem of tomatoey salads dished up at Chez Foti, we’ve been munching our way through many a simple Tomato & Red Onion Salad through to my favourite Greek Salad and Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Salad a plenty. Then there’s been the lightly more sophisticated Salad Nicoises and Roasted Tomato Salads and I’ve regularly thrown in a few homemade Sun Dried Tomatoes to liven up a plain green salad.

I’ve been pretty busy trying out fellow blogger’s tomatoey recipes too. There’s been the delicious Stuffed Tomatoes with Herbs and Oats from Karen @ Lavender and Lovage, I’ve now made these many an evening. I’ve also been baking and stuffing tomatoes with pork or lamb mince and just a simple and divine oozy goats cheese (thanks to Mr Nigel Slater!). Mr F’s is a huge fan of stuffed tomatoes in any form, so he’s one happy husband these days!.

Lavender and Lovage’s Beef, Herb & Oat Stuffed Tommies

I’ve been making several loaves of Kitchen Ninja’s delicious Tomato, Courgette & Basil Bread which is oh so perfect with tommie soup. I urge you make this!. The Tomato Gratin from Laura @ How to Cook Good Food is wonderful, served simply with some fresh french bread on the side, as is the heavenly Goats Cheese & Oven-Dried Tomato Pappardelle from Keith @ Reluctant Housedad. And I have to mention the divine tomatoey heaven of Vanesther’s  Slow Roasted Tomato & Oregano Pizza from the award winning Bangers and Mash Chat blog. Last but not least I have to mention the deeeelicious Tomato Relish from A Wee Bit of Cooking, just perfect with my Barbecue Burgers or even in a cheese sandwich (goats cheese in particular!).

A Wee Bit of Cooking’s Tomato Relish

So that’s it for my rather long Tomato Veg of the Month round up blog. Believe me I still have a list of tomatoey recipes as long as my arm to make, blog or try and I haven’t been nearly as inventive as I’d wanted to, but time as usual has got the better of me. It’s been a hectic couple of months of school holidays, holidays to the UK and rentree back to school (for both littlies, eek!). I’m hoping though to bring a few more tomato treats to you before they’re finished for the year (and even then I’ve an entire freezer full to blog about!). I narrowly missed entering July’s One Ingredient Tomato Challenge (held jointly by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and Nazima at London Working Mummy) waiting for mine to ripen, but there’s a whole host of wonderful recipes to try, and wonderful blogs to peruse.

October’s all about the squash and pumpkin.…as we’ve more than a few of those too! I’d love to hear your favourite uses, ideas and recipes.

Did you catch my other Veg of the Months? July Veg of the Month: The Courgette, June Veg of the Month: Swiss Chard.

Louisa

Felicity Cloake’s Perfect Tomato Soup with Kitchen Ninja’s Courgette & Tomato Bread


Spaghetti alla Puttanesca with fresh Tomatoes

Ordinarily this a wintry mid-week supper favourite at Chez Foti; a handy and quick store-cupboard dinner using tinned tomatoes. But with so many fresh tommies to hand it’s been made numerous times over the summer in my efforts to use up some of the glut. And it’s good, so much the better to be made with perfectly ripe, flavoursome, sweet and in-season tomatoes. You won’t be disappointed.

A bit of an Italian classic, Puttanesca is a heady mix of tomatoes, anchovies, capers, garlic, chili and olives. In Italian it literally translates as ‘whore’s spaghetti! Lovely. And it is. If you’ve never tried or made it you should. Deliciously simple.

I have no problem with using the tomato skin or seeds in recipes like this, but purists would balk. It’s up to you. If you want to remove the skins immerse the tommies in boiling water for 30 to 40 seconds then in a bowl of really cold water, they’ll then slip off easily. I use my plum tomatoes (which are the best for cooking with) for this sauce, but any very ripe, sweet tomatoes will be wonderful.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca 

Enough for 2 grown up folk (with hearty appetites!):

2 tablespoons of olive oil

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

a red chili, finely chopped (or less if you’re adverse to too much heat!)

4 anchovy fillets

450g of fresh chopped tomatoes or a 400g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes

a large pinch of freshly ground black pepper

a pinch of sugar

60g of stoned black olives

a dessertspoon of capers, rinsed

250g of spaghetti

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the chili, garlic and anchovies for a couple of minutes until the anchovies are almost disintegrated. Slide in the tomatoes and add a generous pinch of coarsely ground black pepper and a small pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti to packet instructions.

The sauce is ready when it’s thickened and very flavoursome. Stir in the olives and capers. Have a taste check adding more black pepper to suit. Obviously you could add salt but there’s a fair whack already in there from the anchovies and capers so it’s unlikely you’ll need more.

Run the sauce through the spaghetti and serve immediately.

Here’s some other quickie mid-week supper ideas: Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, Garden Pasta, Cheese, Courgette & Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding, One Pot Ratatouille, Tomato Tarts, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow, Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto, Noodles with Pork & Veggies


Homemade Sun (aka Oven) Dried Tomatoes!

As regular readers will know it’s been a tomatoey summer at Chez Foti, and I have to admit my interest is now waining slightly. Though my 68 plants (beyond ridiculous I know, but down to an over-exhuberence in seed sowing and an ever growing number of fruitful self-seeders!) are most definitely not waining and unlike last year there’s not a diseased leaf in sight. And I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at this!

Of all the ways to attack a glut of tomatoes this is without question my favourite. Many a batch has been made and enjoyed over the course of our summer, and I’ve just realised I’ve not blogged how to make them. And lots of people have been asking. But beware they’re fabulously addictive. I’d hate to know how many I’ve consumed the last few weeks, but I can promise you I won’t ever be buying another shop bought jar again. The homemade ones are simply sublime beyond sublime. And I’d go as far as to say they are the single most tastiest thing I’ve EVER made! Amazing in pasta dishes, sandwiches, pizzas, salads, or served as an antipasto with drinks. The latter being my favourite way so you can truly appreciate their flavour (if stored in the fridge make sure you serve them at room temperature).

A basket of plummies!

I have to admit I’ve not made mine in the most orthodox way. After much googling it seems that few people bother with attempting real ‘sun’ dried tomatoes as it’s a pretty tricky and lengthy affair, even if you do have guaranteed hot sunshine for several days. Pretty much all commercial ‘sun’ dried tomatoes are oven dried, as are the home produced ones. So an oven is required, but all searches on google required an oven that would heat to a mere 100 to 120°C (and to bake the tomatoes for around 6 to 12 hours, depending on their size and water content). My temporary gas oven most certainly goes no where near this low so I improvised. By placing the trays in the coolest part of the oven and periodically switching the oven on and off to it’s lowest setting over the course of 24 hours (admittedly I wasn’t dedicated enough to do it through the night!) I’m pretty confident I achieved the same results. And it shouldn’t go without saying saved a good deal of energy on the normal method. A total success.

My other googling find was that plum (also known as Roma) tomatoes work the best, mainly because of their lower water and seed content and larger proportion of fleshy bits. Handily I’ve lots of those!

The Pre-baked Sun Dried Tomatoes

Homemade Sun Dried Tomatoes

As many tomatoes as you want to use, preferably plum tomatoes

a little salt

a little pepper

a little sugar

several sprigs of thyme

extra virgin olive oil

Decide how you’re going to bake your tomatoes. If your oven can be set to as low as 100º or 120º you could go with this and bake the tomatoes for around 6 to 12 hours, checking every hour or so whether they’re ready. Alternatively you could bake them like myself at a temperature of around 160º but turning off the oven every time it reaches this temperature and leaving the tomatoes within to cool down and slowly dry out. This will take around 24 hours and 5 to 8 turning on and off sessions (not including the night!). You must take care not to forget and that they don’t stay too hot for long or they’ll colour and taste burnt in a matter of minutes (this happened with one batch of mine!)

Pre-heat your oven to the desired choice of heat setting.

Cut each of the tomatoes in half lengthways. Using your finger carefully scrap out most of the juice and seeds. Place each cut side up on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Continue until all the tomatoes are halved and prepared. I do at least a couple of trays at a time, but this is an awful lot of tomatoes!

Sprinkle over the merest amount of black pepper, sea salt and sugar on each tomato half. Drizzle on a tiny amount of the olive oil and a generous sprinkling of thyme.

Place in the coolest part of the oven and bake according to your chosen heat setting.

The sun dried tomatoes are ready when the liquid has evaporated, they are considerably reduced but are still flexible to touch, a very deep red and are a little chewy or tacky. The best way to judge them in my view is to taste a couple every now again! You’ll know when they’re perfect.

I stored mine, once cooled, in a jar of olive oil with a few slivers of garlic, in the fridge. They also kept very well for several days in the fridge just plain. Believe me you won’t be able to keep them long anyway! Try not to eat them straight out of the fridge, let them warm to room temperature first.

Here’s some of my other recent tomatoey recipes: A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces, One Pot Ratatouille, A Couple of Tomato Tarts, Garden Pasta, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

The post-baked finished sun dried tomatoes


One Pot Ratatouille

Baby Foods & Weaning 7-9 Months plus, Toddlers & Small Children, Older Kids, Grown Ups

We love ratatouille at Chez Foti, and it’s a regular feature on our dinner table throughout the summer. Originally from Provence, it’s a classic Southern French veggie side dish, and made with good quality (preferably organic) tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines it’s utterly delicious and bursting with vibrant summer flavour. My kids have always loved it too, they eat it these days on a bed of pasta or couscous with a few cheesie sprinkles (they LOVE their sprinkles!). Last summer when they were considerably smaller (and fussier) I diced all the veggies to a smaller size, as large chunks seemed to put them off. And when Jacques was really tiny and weaning I whizzed up my ratatouille with a stick blender and served it to him with baby pasta stars. If you’re making for babies or little kids do not add any salt.

Us grown up folk prefer to eat our ratatouille in a large shared bowl (with a luxurious drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top) with plenty of fresh bread and maybe the odd sneaky merguez sausage on the side. It’s great served as a veggie side dish to a roast or cold cuts too, or with pasta or couscous like the kids.

My ratatouille recipe is probably somewhat old school now, in that it’s made as I’ve always made it with all the veggies in one big pot. It seems that most modern recipes call for the roasting or sauteing then layering of each of the veggies separately and diss my old fashioned all-in-one stew method. I personally like it both ways, but Mr F (who’s a big ratatouille fan) and the kids prefer this one pot wonder way….which is also quicker and requires less washing up!

Like all our dinners over the summer the veggies were all freshly picked from the garden, though admittedly I had to buy some peppers as mine are very slow to fruit this year. The courgettes, tomatoes (well obviously!), aubergine, garlic, onions, thyme and bay were all Chez Foti. It really is rather special being able to walk out of the front door and pick all your dinner’s ingredients, and after a year and a half of growing my own the novelty most certainly isn’t waining. And I hope it never does.

I’m entering this blog to the lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge, held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

Ratatouille

Enough as a main for four big people, or several more as a side dish:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

a very large or two medium white or red onions, medium dice

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large aubergine or two small

2 peppers (preferably a red and a green one, or two reds)

2 courgettes

a small glass of white wine (optional)

700g of fresh chopped tomatoes (3 or 4 very large) (OR 600g of good quality tinned chopped tomatoes)

3 bay leaves

several sprigs of fresh thyme (be generous!)

a teaspoon of sugar

salt and pepper

Dice your veggies. If cooking for bigger kids and adults try to cut the peppers, aubergines and courgettes to a similar 3 cm ish slice size. I slice the aubergines into rounds (of about 4 to 5mm thick) then quarter the slices (or eighth if very large). The courgettes are sliced to the same thickness then cut in half (or quartered if very large). If making specially for babies (that do lumps) or toddlers cut to a much finer, more acceptable to them, dice.

Make a small bouquet garni of the herbs by tying together the bay leaves and thyme sprigs with string.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onions and saute on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and allow to cook for a further minute. Next throw in the aubergines and peppers followed by the courgettes about 5 minutes later. Stir frequently so nothing catches.

Pour in the white wine (if using) and allow to simmer for a few minutes until much reduced. Now stir in your chopped tommies, bouquet garni, sugar, a generous amount of back pepper and salt (go easy on the pepper and no salt for babies and small children). Bring everything to a simmer, stirring from time to time, and allow to cook on a fairly gentle heat for about 45 minutes partially covered with the lid. The veggies should be very tender and tomatoes much reduced.

Have a final taste check, adding more pepper, salt and sugar to taste (no added salt for babies or small children though). Fish out the bouquet garni and serve hot or cold.

Eat and enjoy as you so desire!

How about trying some of my other summery recipes? Garden Pasta, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, Paella, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow or A Couple of Tomato Tarts?


A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces!

It’s the war of the tomatoes this week (and month) at Chez Foti, there’s a daily battle between myself and the ridiculously extravagant sixty three tomato plants I’ve somehow ended up with (an over exhuberance in seed sowing and a problem number of  self-seeders literally fruiting up all over the plot!). Every day I fill an enormous basket worth (with the help of my two little tomato pickers – see pics below) and use up every minute of available time (which is never all that much with a two and a nearly four year old to entertain too) transforming them into something tasty for the future. An inordinate amount of my time seems to be spent chopping tomatoes. But there’s always a tray full of surplus at the end of the day, and today I now have two trays worth. And we’re only at the beginning of the tomato season. Our new chest freezer’s meanwhile filling up nicely, it arrived last week just in the nick of time. I fear we’ll be ordering another before the end of the summer.

My daily pickings, beef and cherry tomatoes mainly at the minute but the plum tomatoes are just starting too

Today in the Chez Foti Battle of the Tomatoes it was the turn of the pasta sauces, a roasted in the oven with thyme and garlic Cherry Tomato Sauce and a slow cooked on the hob with garlic and plenty of oregano Beef Tomato Sauce. Both are divinely simple but packed full of intense  flavour through slow cooking, good quality olive oil and plenty of fresh from the garden herbs. Great to use just as they are as a pasta or pizza sauce or sublime with a stirring through of a little creme fraiche and/or balsamic, fresh basil or oregano….and then topped with a further drizzle of good quality olive oil (or chili oil) or Parmesan. Happy days! I’ve also used these as a base for a very rich tomato soup or thinned down (with milk and water) as a sauce for meatballs.

My kids adore both these sauces as much as we do, and they make a super quick and healthy pasta supper when short on time. Which is just as well as I now have half a freezer full. I tend to stir a little creme fraiche into the sauce for the littlies making it extra creamy, and I also go easy on the salt content.

Pasta & Tommie Sauce in my gorgeous Oogaa bowls

As a fair whack of my herb garden has been going into these tomato sauces I thought it more than appropriate to enter this post to the lovely Herbs on Saturday blog challenge held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage. There’s always plenty of gorgeous herby recipes to check out each month so keep the page bookmarked!

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce with Thyme and Garlic

About a kilo of cherry tomatoes

Maldon sea salt (or similar)

Freshly ground black pepper

Several sprigs of fresh thyme

6 cloves of garlic (un-peeled)

3 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil

Heat your oven to 160ºC.

Fill an oven tray with whole cherry tomatoes (which is about a kilo, maybe a little more). Sprinkle over a generous pinch or two of black pepper and Maldon (or similar) sea salt. Remove the leaves from some of the thyme sprigs and scatter over, leave some whole. Nuzzle in the whole sprigs and un-peeled garlic cloves where you have space. Drizzle over the olive oil.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until the tomatoes are completely soft and collapsing.

Remove the thyme sprigs and garlic. Tip the tomatoes into a food processor or blender, making sure you fully scrape off all the lovely residue and oil from the tray. Squeeze out the goey goodness from each of the garlic cloves into the tomatoes too. Whiz until you have a super smooth sauce. Alternatively tip the tommies and garlic into a bowl and use a stick blender to do the whizzing (my preferred method as there’s less washing up!). Have a taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit.

A Slow Cooked on the Hob Tomato & Fresh Oregano Pasta Sauce

About a kilo of larger than cherry tomatoes, any variety. I used beef as that’s what I have

6 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil

8 cloves of garlic

a teaspoon of sugar

a couple of pinches of Maldon sea salt (or similar)

a couple of generous pinches of freshly ground black pepper

a few sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves removed. Be generous!

Chop up all your tomatoes to a medium dice. I tend to use the skin and seeds but not everyone likes to, so remove if you wish.

Heat the oil in a very large saucepan or stock pot on a lowish heat. Fry the garlic for a couple of minutes and at the point when it’s just starting to take on some colour tip the tomatoes into the pan. It’s important not to burn the garlic or this will taint the sauce.

Stir in the pepper, salt and sugar and bring to a simmer on a medium heat. Once simmering turn the temperature down to the lowest setting and allow to bubble away for about an hour until much reduced and considerably thickened. Half way through the cooking time stir in the oregano leaves.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before whizzing up in a processor or blender, or a stick blender straight into the pan, until you have a super smooth sauce. Have a taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit.

My two little tomato picker helpers having fun

A touch of tomato balancing envy!


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