If you’ve ever tasted a home-grown tomato then it’s fair to say that the supermarket ones will never be good enough for you again. I’d like to go as far as to say that you will only ever purchase tomatoes from farmers markets for the rest of your life.
At least that’s true for me.
I’m one of those all or nothing people, and that attitude also extends to my eating habits, with seasonal eating being one of the core principles of my food-centric life. Some people are annoyed by the seasons, they want to eat what they want, when they want it. Peaches in July? Make it happen farmers!
Not me. I enjoy the excruciating wait through winter for the first new season asparagus or the start of the cooler autumn months with the abundant varieties of pumpkin and squash. Don’t even get me started on summer cherries, nectarines, lychees and mangoes; I won’t be able to stop myself drooling.
Eating seasonally makes sense on so many levels; it’s better for the environment, the taste is more vibrant and most importantly, you are helping support Aussie farmers while saving yourself money. Seasonal produce is usually more economical because there is plenty of it and the food miles are shorter. This is especially true if you purchase locally.
The Northern Rivers region is rich with local produce all year round, but it really comes into its own in summer. Being a ‘new local’ to this region, I have become a little bit obsessed by Coopers Shoot tomatoes. Every week I head to the farmers market in either Byron or Bangalow to load up with at least a kilo of ruby beauties that are destined for salads, sauces, soups and straight snacking (seriously, they’re that yummy).
Tomatoes in Spain are deep red, juicy and bursting with incredible flavour. When I tasted them for the first time in Barcelona, back in 2009, I was completely blown away. Not surprisingly, Spanish dishes feature tomatoes heavily, and one of their famous dishes is a cold tomato soup called Gazpacho.
Here, I’ve blended ripe Coopers Shoot tomatoes with capsicum, cucumber, garlic, bread and olive oil then pushed the soup through a fine sieve and thoroughly chilled it before serving. It is one of the most refreshing dishes you can have on a hot summers day. So whether you’re on holidays in Spain or enjoying life here on the beautiful North Coast – sit back, relax and slurp this up. Enjoy!
Have you tasted Spanish tomatoes?
Do you grow your own tomatoes? (If so, I’m jealous!).
This article first appeared in Sample Magazine: Summer 2012/2013 Issue.
serves 4 as a starter
- 1 (100g) thick slice stale crusty white bread
- 1kg very ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1 (150g) red capsicum, deseeded and diced
- 1 (150g) green capsicum, deseeded and diced
- 2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and diced
- 1 (100g) medium Lebanese cucumber, peeled and diced
- 150ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- green olives, diced, to garnish
1. Place the bread into a bowl and cover with cold tap water. Allow to soak for 20 minutes then drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Roughly tear and add to the bowl of a food processor.
2. Add the tomatoes, capsicum, garlic, cucumber and olive oil to the food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the vinegar and salt and pulse to combine.
3. Push the soup through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Discard any solids. Cover the saucepan with a lid and place in the fridge for 4 hours or until thoroughly chilled. Serve cold garnished with green olives, if you like.