It’s tomato season – yippee! I can’t get enough of them…a favourite breakfast of mine is sliced tomato on well-buttered toast with a good grind of both salt and black pepper. I never get bored with it.
France grows great tomatoes, and best of all, they grow many heirloom varieties or ancienne. I have no clue what their names are, so I usually just garble out something like ‘je prende un kilo de tomates de ancienne’ whilst pointing, and hope for the best! Last weekend I was in Le Epicerie at the Bon Marché and tomatoes were on my shopping list. I normally check out the price first, but couldn’t see it so grabbed one anyway. I just about had a heart attack when I got the bag back from the veggie guy…approx €3.50 for one tomato (they were €13/kilo!) Needless to say, I quickly dumped it. The next day, I went to our local organic market and picked up a kilo of tomatoes for the same price as that one from BM!
Tonight’s dinner is courtesy of Lindsey Bareham’s Dinner Tonight column for The Times. I have an iPad and The Times has the BEST app ever…so because of that, I’m a subscriber. I like the Dinner Tonight column for mid-week recipes…taking advantage of what’s seasonally available, they are always super simple and full of flavor.
Along with the tomatoes, I had some lovely small aubergines and a couple of Italy’s finest mozzarella di bufala (I go crazy for these…there’s a smoked version as well which I must try soon). So this recipe was perfect to use up things out of my fridge. My kitchen is smelling so good right now…if I shut my eyes I can imagine that I’m outside with the sun beating down. Alas no, that’s just because the oven has been on…but that’s OK as it’s awful outside…grey and chilly. This meal is promising to be a good antidote to the weather.
Roast aubergine, tomato and mozzarella (Serves 2)
2 aubergines, 300g each
300g medium-sized tomatoes
100g cherry tomatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
3 new-season garlic cloves
Handful of pitted black olives, roughly chopped
2 buffalo mozzarella or 120g goat cheese log
Chives or chopped parsley to serve (I used both…as you can see from the photo, my chopping skills were a little lacking tonight!)
- Heat the oven 180C. Cut the aubergines in half, lengthways, and carefully score each half taking care not to cut through to the skin. Sprinkle each surface with salt and leave while you get on with the next steps.
- Line a shallow roasting tin with foil. Cut the larger tomatoes in half, and pierce the cherry tomatoes with a knife.
- Using the back of your knife, crush the garlic cloves (you just want them to be burst rather than a pulp). Trim the shallots leaving the skin on, and cut lengthways in half.
- Place the halved tomatoes on the foil and drizzle with olive oil, put the garlic and cherry tomatoes in the middle and surround all with the shallot halves.
- Place immediately into the oven (you don`t need to wait for it to get to temperature). Rinse away the salt from the aubergines, pat dry and rub in some olive oil. Place on a second foil lined tray and place next to the tomatoes.
- Remove tomato tray after 30-45 minutes, once the tomatoes are squidgy and the shallots are soft. Leave to cool. Check the aubergine for softness after 30 minutes (mine needed a bit longer).
- Squeeze the garlic and shallots out of their skins and blitz with the tomatoes and 2 tbsp olive oil added slowly. Sieve to remove the tomato pips, making sure you scrape underneath to catch everything. (You could do this by hand…but make sure you really chop up the tomatoes. It will obviously be a chunkier sauce…and there`s nothing wrong with that!)
- Drizzle the tomato sauce over the aubergine, add chopped olives and thick slices of mozzarella or goat cheese. Place under a hot grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs.
PS it was delicious!!! The roasting of the tomatoes, shallots and garlic gave a strong, rich taste. My aubergine were a little smaller than suggested, so there was quite a bit of sauce leftover which I will use to make a simple pasta.