The Importance of Tomatoes - Total Produce's Heritage tomatos get the full treatment
The importance of tomatoes to our eating and culinary world is so great it nearly goes unrecognised. The vast myriad of sauces, preparations, signature dishes, home cooked favourites and processed goods which contain this fruit are incalculable. At times; we need to step back from an ingredient and examine it at its very best, raw and untouched state. The colours, shapes, varying sweetness and fragrance of Heritage Tomatoes (or heirloom to those across the pond) are unsurpassed.
Carefully picked and packed, these Total Produce tomatoes are the very best. I have only had similar from a local farmer here in Devon who is a deft hand at playing about with different tomatoes. Look at the selection. The Green Zebra has a firmness that could hold up to breading and frying, the Beef Hearts unparalleled sweetness, the Goldens adding a great colourful twist and the San Marzanos an absolute classic. The older I get as a chef, the simpler I prefer my cooking. So; if I can present a stripped down Caprese but use an unusual mix of tomatoes, I’m keeping it simple but still giving the diner a unique experience.
- A quick blanching and refreshing really brings out the silkiness of tomatoes. Removing that skin and de-seeding will give larger tomatoes a whole new dimension. ‘Concasse’
- Seasoning. So important. Tomatoes love sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.
- Room temperature. Always. A tomato served fridge cold is a near crime in my world.
Heritage Tomatoes, Ricotta & Samphire
Ingredients for 4 starters:
A selection of quality Heritage tomatoes, from Total Produce of course!
Lemon oil (1 part lemon juice to 4 parts olive or rapeseed oil)
1) Blanch the samphire for a minute or so in boiling water and refresh in ice water, pat dry.
2) Combine the roughly chopped tomatoes in a large bowl and lightly season. Drizzle with the lemon oil.
3) Divide among 4 small bowls or plates and arrange ricotta nuggets on top.
4) Dot with celery leaves and drape the samphire artfully to finish.
Samphire is one of Britain’s finest free foods. Usually paired with fish, it adds a saltiness that tomatoes love and great colour. When using samphire, you will need to use less seasoning as this plant does the job for you.
Samphire; whether of the rock or marsh varieties, was all the rage in Victorian England and has come back on trend with top chefs everywhere. Along with wild garlic, samphire is the most accessible starting point to the world of foraging.
Ricotta is an oft overlooked cheese. Light and airy in texture, the flavour is very subtle, thus taking on others easily rather than overpowering.