My greenhouse is bursting with colour – every shade of tomato from sour green to pepper-hot red. It has to be my best growing season ever!
Each year I break out the grow bags, season them with a random selection of seeds and water morning, noon and night until the novelty wears off. Unsurprisingly I’m usually rewarded with 3 dull orange misshapen tomatoes and 460 green marbles. But this year I’ve hit jackpot! (Just call me Monty!)
I was so proud of my newly acquired green fingers I took a few of my more fabulous toms in to the restaurant, a bit of showing off if you like! But it was a bit like 'taking coals to Newcastle', Vanessa was busy making vegan peppers stuffed with tomatoes, Adam was just putting the finishing touches to a Greek salad and Maria was finishing some semi-dried tomatoes!
"My family is the only family that can have an argument about making a salad," Maria said. "We argue about the layers, the time to leave, everything, and it's only tomatoes, seasoning and olive!"
Vanessa suggested I might try making batches of tomato sauce: "I have a brilliant recipe, I use it for the cod and chorizo stew we serve on our tapas evenings."
This sauce certainly sounds delicious and we featured the recipe for cod and chorizo stew in our Celebrating summer blog. The recipe is included below, substitute the jar of sauce for our ultimate tomato sauce, it's delicious, and you'll have spare for a pasta dish!
"Or you could make Pan con Tomate or Gazpacho or Salsa de Tomate, or," Maria suggests as she comes in from the herb garden, armed with rosemary for the lamb she's preparing. "We Spanish love our tomatoes! But my favorite, let me think, yes, my favourite is Tomates Rellenos al Estilo Conte Ingles – Stuffed tomatoes Conte Ingles style. My son Robin, he makes it. It's totally delicious – tomatoes stuffed with tuna, onions, mayonnaise, delicious."
Looking at my handful of home grown tomatoes I realise I'm going to have to work much harder on my green fingers to produce a larger crop!
"In Spain we love tomatoes. We make everything with tomatoes." Maria laughs, "We love them so much we even make La Tomatina!"
"Yes! La Tomatina! A festival in Valencia. Thousands and thousands of people and thousands and thousands of tomatoes! The people throw the tomatoes! A giant food fight!
Only in Valencia, I think as I head home to my greenhouse.