Witt chef tutor Denis Duthie has used tomatoes in a pasta dish with an avocado and mint sauce, seared the cherry specimens to go with barbecued eggplant and roasted the red fruit, along with capsicum and red onion, to serve on bruschetta.
Not only does Denis tap into tomatoes; he also uses other in-season produce in his recipes.
"We've got heaps of fresh mint in the garden," he says, referring to the pasta dish.
This meal can be served warm or cold, but the special cheese can't wait. "Don't cook the haloumi and let it get too cold, because it goes very hard."
The spiral pasta can be pre- cooked though. "You can cook it the day before and have it ready in the fridge or you can do it straight away and have it fairly warm. They [the ingredients] are all put together nice and quick once you've got everything ready," he says.
One of the features of this dish is meant to be the preserved lemon, but Denis put it in the seared cherry tomato and barbecued eggplant dish instead. It goes well in both.
Denis says it takes a few days to preserve the lemon, but reckons it's worth the wait.
First he cuts slashes into the lemon without going all the way through. "I rub sea salt in it and put it in a jar, pour boiling water over it and seal it. I put a lid on tight and left it for four days."
People can use fresh lemons in this dish, but the preserved slices are not so acidic and can be eaten in their entirety with skins on.
The sauce for the pasta dish is like a guacamole, infused with mint. Once again, avocados are aplenty at this time of year, making this meal economical and highly nutritious.
The bruschetta dish is a meal in itself and perfect for a summer lunch.
"You can eat it with a knife and fork and have a salad with it," he says.
He's roasted the tomatoes, capsicums, garlic and red onion in the oven, but says it could also be done on the flat plate of a barbecue grill. "That would taste a lot nicer," he says.
The bruschetta, in this case slices of toasted sourdough, can also be done on the barbecue. "Brush them with a bit of olive oil and yum, yum," he says.
"When I do barbecue, I have olive oil and crushed garlic mixed up and that goes on everything. I brush it on my steaks, sausages and even eggplant."
Denis' last dish is definitely barbecue fare; a cooked salad of cherry tomatoes, eggplant and garlic, topped with balsamic vinegar, feta and mint.
He chose Kapiti feta for this recipe because it's easy to crumble on this summertime vege meal. "It's refreshing," he says of the dish. "It has nice flavours and would go good with a big chunk of steak, scotch fillet is my favourite."
But the vegetarians, naturally, can just stick with the original recipe.
FOOD FACT Eating tomatoes is recommended for men. Research shows the red fruit contains the antioxidant lycopene, believed to help prevent prostate cancer. Lycopene also helps guard against age-related macular degeneration and inhibits the growth of breast and lung cancer tumours. So source the freshest fruit and vegetables, and serve them up with simple sense and inspiration.
VINE-RIPENED TOMATO PASTA SALAD WITH AVOCADO & MINT SAUCE
1 cup spiral pasta
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp canola oil
20g haloumi cheese
2 preserved lemons, finely sliced (fresh OK)
20 black olives
6 vine-ripened tomatoes
Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente (firm to the bite). Drain in colander and cool under cold running water, drain well.
Place avocado, lemon juice, mint leaves, garlic and salt in a blender and blend. Set aside in a small bowl.
In a hot pan, sear 2cm cubes of haloumi cheese on all sides. Drain on a paper towel.
Place pasta into serving bowl and add haloumi, sliced lemons, black olives and vine tomatoes (cut into wedges). Mix carefully. Top with fresh avocado sauce and sprinkle with chopped chives.
ROAST TOMATO, CAPSICUM & RED ONION BRUSCHETTA
1 sourdough bread
6 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 yellow capsicum
1 red capsicum
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red onion
Pepper and salt
Olive and/or avocado oil
Slice red and yellow capsicum, peel and slice red onion. Place in oven dish, mix in garlic and a little oil. Slice tomatoes and place on top of other vegetables.
Roast in oven, heated to about 170 degrees Celsius, until tomatoes "collapse" and capsicum and onions shrivel.
Allow to cool and mix well. Serve on toasted sourdough bread, drizzle with olive or avocado oil and sprinkle with capers.
SEARED CHERRY TOMATOES WITH BBQ EGGPLANT, BALSAMIC, FETA & MINT
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp minced garlic
1 punnet cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
100g feta cheese (crumbled)
Balsamic vinegar to drizzle
1 cup fresh torn mint leaves
Turn barbecue to high heat and slice eggplant.
In a bowl, mix oil, garlic and a good seasoning of salt and pepper.
Brush the oil mix on both sides of the eggplant slices and grill each side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Sear half the cherry tomatoes in a little hot oil, without them losing their shape.
Overlay eggplant on a plate and scatter over the cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta.
Drizzle balsamic vinegar over this and then add a generous grind of black pepper.
Sprinkle with torn mint leaves.
Variations of vegetables can be used, including asparagus, red onions and capsicums - whatever is in season.
- Taranaki Daily News
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