The Accidental Tomato

Picture of TomatoesAs much as I’d like to think of myself as a green-thumb, the truth is I’m not.

My latest tomato vine grew randomly out of some chicken manure I used as fertilizer.

With no TLC whatsoever, the vine produced the most exquisite tomatoes I’ve very seen.

Nevertheless, I would like to deliberately plant some more tomato varieties and learn how to grow them properly.

Did you know the tomato has been called everything from the Moor’s Apple, to the Wolf Peach, to the Love Apple?

Tomatoes originated in South America and were taken to Europe by explorers in the 16th century.

Who knows what Italian, Spanish and Greek dinner tables would have looked like before that?

Although most people think tomatoes are a vegetable, they are in fact a fruit. In the last few centuries many varieties have been developed.

Some of the varieties available commercially are Roma, Gourmet, Cherry, Yellow Pear, Beefsteak and Standard Round.

Obviously, my favourite is the hand-picked vine-ripened variety, (just like my accidental tomatoes) they are the best tasting and far better than the mechanically harvested and cold room ripened.

Semi-dried Roma Tomatoes

Semi-drying is a fantastic process for preserving and intensifying the flavour of ripe, red tomatoes. Good quality Roma tomatoes are best for this recipe. They are delicious used on antipasto platters, in pasta dishes or on pizza.

  1. Heat an oven to 140oC.
  2. Cut ripe Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and arrange the halves on a wire rack, placed on top of a baking tray. Make sure the cut side of the tomato halves are facing upward.
  3. Sprinkle the tomatoes with sea salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper. You can also season them with fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, oregano or thyme.
  4. Bake in the oven for several hours or until the tomatoes shrivel around the edges, but remain soft and fleshy in the middle. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool.
  5. Place the semi-dried tomatoes in a sealed container and cover with extra virgin olive oil. The oil helps shield the tomatoes from oxygen and increases shelf life.

These tomatoes can last at least a month in the refrigerator.

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