27 May tomatoes on toast
“I hope we get a good summer this year,” said every Irish person, ever. I said this to my husband on an evening stroll recently, when the summer sun was cooling down over the city in pink bursts on the horizon leaving a crystal clear blue sky lingering above us for a little longer. I am quite pragmatic about our fickle Irish weather, but it’s hard to keep up the façade of indifference when you get treated to a really, really lovely day and you’re reminded of what you’ve been missing.
Regular sunshine would be particularly nice for the tomatoes growing in windowsills, trailing up backyard trestles or plumping up in commercial poly-tunnels. Think of the Irish tomatoes! They’re the really sun-starved ones, not us.
There are plenty of good Irish tomato-growers and you can find them in larger supermarkets. They are also relatively straightforward to grow at home and don’t require much space. I had a plant last year that yielded twelve of the juiciest little tomatoes I’ve ever tasted, making it worth the effort of minding them. I’m ashamed to say that I am a truly neglectful gardener and, sometime over the winter, my tomato plant decided to check out. I think we might be too late to be planting tomato seeds this year, but perhaps we should head to our nearest garden centre to ask an expert for advice, and at the very least we could get our homegrown tomatoes set up for next summer?
tomatoes on toast
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
About 400g cherry tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 head of garlic
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 ball of mozzarella
- Pre-heat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Put the cherry tomatoes in a roasting dish. I got cherry tomatoes of various colours, which makes for a pretty toast topper.
- Slice the red pepper into large chunks and de-seed it. Add to the roasting dish.
- Slice the garlic head in half and add the whole piece and all the cloves to the roasting dish.
- Add the fresh thyme to the dish and drizzle everything with the olive oil. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper and roast in the oven (at 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4) for 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to burst.
- When the tomatoes are nearly done, add the balsamic to a small saucepan. Bring to a very gentle simmer over a medium heat and stir until the balsamic is reduced by half and has thickened into a syrupy texture. Be careful to not leave this unattended as it will destroy the bottom of your saucepan if given half the chance to burn!
- Serve the tomatoes and pepper on slices of ciabatta. Top with mozzarella chunks, fresh basil and drizzle of the reduced balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and enjoy outside.
Storecupboard Essential: Irish Seed Savers
Irish Seed Savers Association is an organization in County Clare that protects and preserves rare and heritage varieties of fruits and vegetables by sharing seeds with gardening enthusiasts. You can buy heirloom tomato and pepper seeds directly from their website on www.irishseedsavers.ie.
This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on May 26th 2016