Posted in Good Food

A Garden Full of Vine Ripened Rosa Tomatoes

At the moment my garden is filled with these beautiful ruby-red little organic gems all over – vine ripened rosa tomatoes! They are sweet and delicious and taste nothing like those shop bought tomatoes. They have a wonderful aroma and their heartiness can quickly fill the whole garden with their natural goodness that tells you, you are onto something really good here.

Rich in vitamin C, anti-oxidants and that all important lycopene. Yes, being in my forties I am seriously considering the health benefits of the foods that I put into my body and studies have shown that lycopene seriously reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Lycopene is the major red carotenoid pigment found in tomatoes. Added benefits include also lowering the your risk for heart disease and colon disease. So add a healthy dose of these beautiful gems to your diet!

I love them as they make a really good snack food when I am busy in my garden. I would just cut a few stems off, wash them and eat them there and then, they refresh and replenish energy levels quickly and above all I can feel their goodness as they enter my body! And if you think the leaves look unhealthy in the picture, this is what organic food look like. I stopped using pesticides and harmful artificial fertiliser about thirteen years ago and allow everything to control each other. Over the years I have been blessed with wonderful veggies and one thing I have learned so far is that all the pests will help themselves to the bottom fruits and leaves and the top ones they’ll leave for you to enjoy. That way everybody shares in the bounty of Mother Nature. Try it, it is worthwhile!

Apart from eating them fresh, I like to add them to my diet in other forms as well. One of my favourite and very naughty breakfasts is to go out early in the morning and pick a few stems. In a pan I lightly fry some sliced chorizo, no oil, they will soon ooze their own fragrant laden oil in the pan. Add a few washed stems of rosa tomatoes and take the chorizo out of the pan once they are crispy or to your liking. Remove the tomatoes and add a few slices of ciabatta and toast them in the remaining oil in a hot pan. Once golden on both sides, remove and enjoy with the chorizo and tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes onto the toast, they will be oozing all their juices over the bread and topped with a few slices of chorizo it is nothing short of a culinary miracle in your mouth!

If you are on the Pretoria Boeremark (farmer’s market) why not drop into our stall for a tub of vine ripened tomato goodness. We have so much of these little gems that I have decided to share them with you in the form of Tomato Confit. Now, before my Afrikaans speaking clients think I am talking about “konfyt” (which is sweet jam), the french word confit means cooked or baked in oil. We wash and peel our tomatoes, drizzle them with a little sugar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and a few fresh herbs and then slow bake it in the oven until they are soft and full of all the flavours of the herbs.  They are versatile and you can enjoy them as is or serve with a white fish such as hake, monk fish or kingklip or try it with a piece of fillet. When I serve it with fillet I add some sundried olives, also available from Taste Café, it accompanies your fillet beautifully.

Fancy something more upmarket to impress your friends? Try our Rosa Tomato Tart Tatin, it is a celebration of goodness and a lovely starter! Click here for the recipe.

Posted in How To, Recipe

How to make vegetable ribbons and spaghetti

If you have the right tools, both vegetable ribbons and spaghetti or pasta are actually very easy to make. You need a normal vegetable peeler for the ribbons, see the first photo and a toothed peeler for the spaghetti veggies, see the photo below. These ribbons and spaghetti are much healthier and they add another dimension to your dishes. I like the fresh look it can create on a plate. I am not a big cucumber lover, but when cut into ribbons I love it with salt, black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil and a scoop of my own Taste Café Olive Tapenade, they taste just so much better!

I adore pasta, but sometimes semolina based pasta can be just too heavy for me and I have a few friends who are gluten intolerant, zucchini spaghetti makes a great and extremely tasty alternative. Another friend of mine has two boys who refuse to eat vegetables, I suggested she tries the zucchini spaghetti on them and they loved it! At least they get some veggies in now. Carrot spaghetti is also another favourite of mine and a mix of the zucchini and carrot spaghetti really looks appealing on a plate.

A few tips and ideas:

  • Always wash your vegetables before you start.
  • Watch your fingers and hands, the veggies can be slippery and you can give yourself a nasty cut if you are not careful. Those peelers look innocent, but they can inflict much pain and ugly wounds.
  • Keep your cucumber ribbons in a bowl of ice water and dry them on paper towels just before you use them.
  • When you cut cucumber ribbons avoid cutting into the seeded middle. When the seeds starts to come through turn your cucumber and cut from another side. Keep that seeded middle for another time, I dice that and use it in my salads again.
  • Fresh thick stem celery also makes a few nice ribbons for salads, however I find it difficult and you don’t get a lot of spaghetti strands from a stick.
  • Blanch your carrot and other hard vegetable ribbons for 2 minutes in boiling water and refresh immediately in ice water, this will prevent your ribbons from breaking when you arrange them on the plate.
  • If you make zucchini spaghetti, blanch it only for about 30 seconds, more than that and they disintegrate to a mush on your plate. Always serve immediately. Here the pasta can’t wait for the sauce! So make that sauce first, it can wait for the pasta!
  • Blanch carrot spaghetti for about 1 minute and use long carrots to make attractive spaghetti.
  • Leeks make a lovely spaghetti and I use it many times with asian dishes. I blanch it and serve it with a piece of seared tuna, drizzled with soy sauce and a few toasted sesame seeds.

Enjoy making ribbons and pasta and have fun while discovering a whole new way of presenting and eating your food!