Tomatoes, Basil, Aubergines and Sugar Snap Peas

July 24, 2009

Hi everyone,

This week’s selections all have lovely sun-ripened Tomatoes and Basil, two flavours, that when brought together, seem to say summer  more than almost anything else. Basil and Tomatoes with almost nothing more than good Olive Oil and a little Salt form the basis of so many great (and very easy to assemble) dishes.Take the classic Tomato and Mozzarella salad (aka Caprese Salad) for instance. Just slice 3 or 4 Tomatoes and lay on a plate with about 125gr. sliced Buffalo Mozzarella  (avoid the plastic variety at all costs and get the stuff sold in little bags with liquid) and some torn Basil Leaves. Dress with some Salt and your nicest Olive Oil and leave for a few minutes so the Basil can infuse into your Olive Oil and mix with the Tomato juices…….. Delicious! Serve with good rustic bread  and maybe some Black Olives as a starter or with a simple omelette if you want to make a meal of it.

Obviously these flavour combinations work just as well with pasta so for a dish that’s a little more filling you can try somthing like…..

Pasta with Tomato, Garlic and Basil
If you are short of time this can be as simple as sautéing 2 cloves sliced Garlic (with a little chilli if you like) adding 2 or 3 Tomatoes (finely chopped), a teaspoon Sugar and some Salt. Sauté the lot over a medium heat for as long as it takes your pasta to cook. To serve simply mix the Tomatoes with the pasta adding a handful of torn Basil leaves,some freshly Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese and Black Pepper. If you want something less rustic and a little more refined you can cook the tomatoes for longer (and even use tinned ones if it’s handier) – say 45 minutes and add a dash of Balsamic Vinegar towards the end and then serve with pasta as described above.

One thing that works wonderfully with Basil and Tomatoes is of course Aubergine and they are in all our bags this week (straight outta Wicklow in case you’re wondering about whether they are local). My recipe for them them today might sound quite faffy but it’s not and it’s really gorgeous -grilled  Aubergine “sandwiches” with some Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil in the middle as a filling. Serve them on this week’s baby leaves and you have a really nice starter or lunch dish…………

Grilled Aubergine Sandwiches with Tomato and Basil

You’ll need:

400gr Aubergines (about what you have in this week’s bag)

2-3 Tomatos

1 Ball Mozzarella

Basil Leaves

Olive Oil

Salad Leaves

Aubergines tend to have some bitterness so it’s a good idea to salt them before cooking. To do this slice your aubergine (s) into rounds about 1.2 cm thick, place in a colander and lightly sprinkle with Salt then leave them for about half an hour. This will draw out the bitterness (a brownish liquid) which you wipe off  with a cloth. To cook the slices, brush them with Olive Oil and grill until golden on each side. As the Aubergines are cooking slice the Tomatoes and Mozzarella. To finish the dish, place a slice of Mozzarella, a slice of Tomato and a couple of Basil Leaves on half of the Aubergine slices then return to the grill to melt the cheese and soften the Tomato. When they’re done, top with another slice of Aubergine and serve on a bed of leaves (Rocket is also fab) dressed with a little Olive Oil and some Balsamic Vinegar.

Variations: Parmesan is also great and instead of fresh Tomatoes you can use a thick Tomato sauce

Finally, there are Sugar snap peas in our bags this week which, like Mangetout, are meant to be eaten whole (it’s better if you get rid of the string that runs each side by pulling the hooky bit at the top). I think the ones we got are slightly mature podwise for eating whole but the peas inside are just gorgeous. I meant to make all kinds of amazing things with them last night but some friends showed up unexpectedly from Spain so we ended up podding them and munching on the peas  with beers while waiting for Bombay Pantry (long day with kids meant I just wasn’t able for anything else and they don’t get good Indian in Asturias).  I’ve promised them all kinds of home cooking tonight and of course after the late one last night I am full of boundless energy…….

Hope you enjoy these recipes,
Have a great weekend,

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