I’ve had a wonderful crop of stripey heirloom tigerella tomatoes this year, along with one very prolific black cherry tomato plant. No surprises then, that I have cooked many of them so their dark and rosy wonderfulness doesn’t go to waste. Added to this the most fabulous crop of basil I’ve ever grown and you have a recipe for Italian influenced summer heaven.
Tigerellas are a firm favourite of mine and I grow them every year, but this is the first time I’ve grown black cherry tomatoes. As they’re both heirlooms I’ll keep the seeds from the fruit of both varieties, choosing one single tomato from the strongest tigerella plant to offer up the beginnings of next year’s crop.
The basil is an Italian variety that has been grown from seeds procured at Melbourne’s Mediterranean Wholesalers. It’s dense and highly aromatic with large leaves and so different from the small, pale-leafed stuff found in the punnets at local garden centres. I’m hoping it will resow from saved seeds next year.
I love slow roasted tomatoes, so I decided to make a roasted tomato sauce-type-thing that I could freeze for later use. I chose not to peel or deseed the fruit, but simply to chop and bake with a couple of goodies.
First I just took the stem end out of the tigerellas and quartered them (or halved in the case of smaller ones). Then I roughly chopped up about 5 garlic cloves and ripped up a generous amount of basil leaves.
I tossed all three ingredients together before pouring over a hearty amount of olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar. I chose not to add either salt or pepper to the tomatoes, as it’s something that can be added to suit whatever dish they’re finally used for.
This whole shebang was then tightly covered with two layers of aluminium foil, tucked under around the edges. Then it was placed into the oven, which had been preheated to 150 degrees Celcius on the non fan-forced setting.
Next I prepared some black cherry tomatoes. To the trusty baking dish my mother gave to me many moons ago I placed a single layer of tomatoes, which had been scored with a cross at the stem end.
I poured loads of olive oil over the tomatoes (I don’t know why, but I suddenly thought tomato confit) and, once again, a little balsamic vinegar and about a teaspoon or two of sugar, a grinding of pepper and a pinch of sea salt.
Next came the double-layer foil covering and into the same oven for a roasting.
Both trays of tomatoes stayed in the oven for about two hours, then I took the foil off the top and upped the temperature for about half an hour to reduce a bit.
The end result is wonderful. The tomatoes retained some fleshy bulk and there’s enough juice left in the pan to make it all very saucy or to reduce if I so desire. This batch is already in the freezer, ready for a winter’s pasta or a rich tomato sauce (I’m thinking reduced, pureed and used as a sauce for tiger prawns. Just for fun I could call the dish the two tigers).
The black cherry tomatoes are completely different.
They’re also wonderful, but how I use them will be determined by how I can balance the oil.
I’m still thinking on that and no doubt something will come to me as the weather cools and I have a need for that rich olive oily tomatoey flavour. In the meantime, they’re happily residing next to their tigerella cousins in my freezer.
Aaaah, the joys of a summer vegetable garden and the ability to cook. Bliss.