Back to basics with tomatoes

Hello and welcome to all about food. This week we’re taking things slow…

Hello and welcome to all about food. This week we’re taking things slow…

Ask gingergirl

Hello gingergirl,

My father-in-law (very kindly) brings us a large bowl of tomatoes from his greenhouse on a weekly basis. Though very tasty I feel like it’s all we eat now! Any suggestions what we can do with them?

Many thanks,

Joan Kennedy, Castletroy.

Hello Joan,

As I’m sure you’ll agree you are very lucky to be on the receiving end of a tomato glut but I can appreciate the pressure of getting through a high volume of any ingredient – that’s seasonal eating for you! We grow scores of tomato plants every year but demand still outweighs supply when it comes to selling my gingergirl spiced tomato and apple chutney.

Confit tomatoes are delicious and while they take a little preparation you really get a superb return in terms of flavour. They store well for a month to six weeks if you cover them with oil and store them in the fridge, therefore these are a great way to use up your excess!

Confit tomatoes

1 clove of garlic

10 basil leaves

10 sprigs thyme

10 tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

½ tsp caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 120ºc. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Cut each basil leaf in half and break the thyme sprigs. Roughly chop the bay leaves.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. With a small sharp knife, cut out the core of the tomatoes and mark a cross on the opposite end.

Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for fifteen seconds. When cool enough to handle pat dry with kitchen paper and peel off the skin.

Slice the tomatoes in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and the white pith. Dab the insides dry with kitchen paper. Leave the tomatoes on a few sheets of kitchen paper for an hour or so, to allow them to dry a bit more.

Generously brush the tomatoes all over with the olive oil and place them on a baking sheet so the insides are facing up. Put a slice of garlic, some basil and thyme in each. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the sugar.

Put in the oven for three and a half to four hours, turning halfway through. When ready the tomatoes will have turned a deep red and be slightly wrinkled.

If storing the tomatoes place in an airtight container with all the herbs and garlic from the roasting tin. Cover completely with olive or groundnut oil and refrigerate.

Recipe variations

These tomatoes are ideal on homemade pizza dough (for those of you who remember my pizza dough recipe from some months back!) They also make a great quick dinner when stirred through hot pasta and sprinkled with shavings of pecorino or Parmesan. As part of a mezze they are delicious served alongside some crusty bread, a selection of cured meats and cheese.

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Gingergirl aka Helen Keown is an artisan food producer who produces a range of handmade luxury jams, preserves and chutney’s made from local, seasonal or organic ingredients. Helen’s produce is available nationwide from independent food emporiums and is also available at selected food delis across Europe.

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