I have tomatoes. Tomatoes for giving away. The brandywines are still fruit fly free, this late in the season. Up here in northern NSW, I can usually get them fruit fly free for a few months, but often by now it is one for us and one for the chooks. I love giving them to people who don’t have a garden and watching that moment of stunned surprise as they taste them.
Tomatoes for drying. The Principe Borghese make the best dried tomatoes. They’re small enough to sun dry in one hot day on the dashboard, large enough to be not too fiddly to halve, dense and fleshy without being too juicy. Fully dried they go in a jar covered in olive oil for storing, semi-dried they go in the fridge in olive oil with some garlic and oregano, for adding to pizza or pasta or on crackers or made into tapenade.
Tomatoes for eating fresh, in salads, on sandwiches or as my current favourite breakfast, soft boiled egg and tomato mash on toast. The yellow cherries are great for this. They are sweet and not too acid, and they pick without splitting which means I can keep a bowl on the kitchen bench.
Tomatoes for passata and tomato sauce. The little cherries that split easily are great for this. They are juicy and flavoursome and you don’t need to worry about splits or go to tedious work cutting them. But I have enough passata on the shelf, and still lots of cherries.
So Salmorejo is a favourite lunch lately. Salmorejo is a cold soup but that idea doesn’t do it justice. It’s very fast and easy, and it will keep for a day or two in the fridge so you can make ahead of time (which also makes it great for a first course for summer dinner parties or barbeques). You can also blend left overs with semi-dried tomatoes to make a dip or spread.
Like many really famous traditional recipes, it is simple – just three real ingredients. But they all have to be nice enough that you go yum even when just tasting them alone.
Makes 2 serves for lunch, or 4 for as a dinner party first course, or probably even 6 if you serve in cocktail glasses. Multiply by as many as you need.
You need 1 ½ cups of tomato juice. I blend the little cherry tomatoes in the food processor then strain out the seeds and skins, spending a little bit of effort to stir through as much as I easily can of the jelly surrounding the seeds, since according to Heston Blumenthal that’s where the unami is.
Add a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and salt and black pepper.
Blend the tomato juice with a cup (loosely packed) of sourdough bread, minus crusts. I’ve made it with wholemeal and even multigrain but this is a recipe that really calls for white bread. Stale is fine.
The next bit is easy to get right, but also easy to get wrong. Blend till smooth, then, with the blender going, add ¼ cup nice tasting olive oil in a thin stream. Thin stream. If you add it slowly, it will emulsify like mayonnaise does, making the soup creamy. If you add it too fast it will split. Stop the blender as soon as it is all in – you don’t want to split off the bitter aromatics in the olive oil.
Traditionally salmorejo is served topped with chopped hard boiled egg and crispy ham, but I like it best with lots of finely chopped cucumber.