Often seen as something of an understudy, tomatoes really can be the star of the show at any barbecue. Picked in their prime during an extended February to October season, British tomatoes take some beating. It’s just that rather than simply throwing a few in a salad, it’s far more rewarding to get a little more creative and show them the respect they deserve!
Working with tomatoes for an al-fresco treat also couldn’t be easier. For one thing, it’s hard to get the cooking wrong – underdone they’re nice and fresh, overdone they’re charred and smoky. Either way, downright delicious! Plus there’s the scope for experimentation – brush with herb-infused oil before grilling, marinate them overnight for added flavour and all those different tomato types to play with.
As you might have gathered from our recipes, we’re all for the idea of creating your own weird and wonderful BBQ sauces at home. One of the easiest ways of getting started is to make your own passata, after which you’ll never go store-bought again. Liquidise tomatoes in a blender with garlic, black pepper and basil to taste, before adding a generous spoonful of fried onions and a little olive oil. Blend again, transfer to a pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. For a richer passata, simply add concentrated tomato puree while simmering.
Seriously…that’s all there is to it!
So, why stick with the dull and mundane when tomatoes can be so much more?
Not convinced? Here’s a quick rundown of 10 simple ideas for making the most of British tomatoes with your next summer barbecue:
- Grill Them – Simply slice the tomatoes in half and grill them over hot coals for a gorgeously sweet, smoky and succulent side dish.
- Stuff Them – Slice them in half, scoop out all the juicy bits and stuff with your favourite cheese. Cook over a medium grill until nice and melty.
- Roast Them – Why settle for store-bought sun-dried tomatoes when you can fire-roast your own to perfection? Also a good way of escaping all those artificial additives.
- Go with Garlic – Crush garlic and mix with lemon juice, olive oil and herbs. Spread all over halved tomatoes before grilling to perfection.
- Serve Salsa – Tomato salsa is spectacularly easy to make and goes with just about anything you’ll ever serve up from the garden grill. Experimentation is half the fun!
- Get Saucy – Next time you’re planning a barbecue, make a vow to leave every store-bought sauce and dip out of the equation. Use tomatoes as a base for homemade ketchup, tomato barbecue sauce or anything else you like!
- Skewer Them – When making kebab skewers of any kind, slot a few whole cherry tomatoes between the pieces of meat. Great for a huge dose of juicy-goodness with every bite.
- Go Green – If you can get your hands on a bunch of quality green tomatoes, get grilling and prepare yourself for a totally new tomato experience.
- Chill Out – For a refreshing and decadently delicious addition to any summer barbecue, whip up a batch of gazpacho soup beforehand and serve chilled as a cooling appetiser.
- Recover – For the morning after, why not reward yourself with a simply delicious Bloody Mary, made with your own fresh tomato juice?
As you can see, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the not-so humble tomato. Always a crowd-pleaser and perfect for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, try your hand with a few creative tomato recipes and you’ll soon see who the real star of the show is!