Friday, September 4, 2009

Tomatoes - It's a love/hate relationship

Since the tomato season is in full force I have been eating even more tomatoes than I normally do – poor Mr. Vanilla. What I should probably mention and have failed to do so so far, is that Mr. Vanilla and I have a love/hate relationship with tomatoes.

As you have probably guessed I am the one that loves tomatoes. And when I say love, I mean love! They definitely top my list of ingredients I can’t live without (give me a delicious fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil salad and I will be your best friend) and I eat them on an almost daily basis. Mr. Vanilla on the other hand…….not so much. I blame his sister entirely since she decided when they were both young that she didn’t like them and persuaded her younger, impressionable brother that they were disgusting and not to be eaten!! In her defence now, she actually seems to have more of an allergic reaction to them so her not eating them is fair enough. Mr. Vanilla just never got over his hatred for them.

Now when I say he hates them, I should be more specific – he hates the texture of them, not the flavour. He will eat a homemade tomato sauce but it has to be pureed so that it is smooth and has “no chunks”! On this basis the majority of the time I now use passata or crushed tomatoes because as a tomato lover it takes a lot of love for your other half to puree a beautiful fresh tomato sauce to a pulp every time, however I guess it is good training for me for when the baby comes along!

I have tried in vain to get him to get over his dislike but he point blank refuses, so for the time being it is pureed tomato sauces when I cook for both of us, and as soon as he is away lots and lots of fresh, “chunky” tomatoes for me! This week I gave in to the beautiful bowl of fresh cherry tomatoes on my counter and made spaghetti with cherry tomato sauce for me and spaghetti carbonara for Mr. Vanilla – perfect mid-week meals as they are fast and delicious and kept both of us very, very happy!

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomato Sauce

Serves 2 generously

7oz/ 200g spaghetti
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (not your best olive oil), plus a little extra to drizzle
1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
½ - 1 red chilli, finely sliced
10oz/ fresh cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (try and use a variety of colours if you can)
½ tsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
6 basil leaves, shredded
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling, salted water according to the timing on the packet. While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan then add the garlic and chilli and sizzle gently for roughly one minute, being careful not to brown the garlic. Add the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper and cook over a medium heat until the spaghetti is ready and the tomatoes have softened slightly and are just starting to ‘pop’. Drain the spaghetti, reserving a tablespoon of the cooking water then add to the tomatoes and toss well so that every strand of spaghetti is covered with the delicious sauce. Sprinkle over the shredded basil and serve at once with an extra drizzle of olive oil and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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