©BenDearnley Zebra stripe green tomatoes
When it’s too hot to cope, and there have been several of those this Sydney summertime, preparing food can feel like an impossible chore. Fortunately though, in this season there is a bounty of divine produce to eat raw, cured and cooked to eat cold later.
If you are growing tomatoes, I expect you’ve been eating masses raw and making sauces for use after summer, if you are not a grower, keep your eyes peeled for the good ones at your local farmers market or providores. If you see these green tomatoes, an heirloom variety, very pretty with stripes of dark green on their bright green skins be sure to grab a few. They are this colour when fully ripened and not to be mistaken for unripe red ones, which are perfect for fermenting with corn and jalapeño’s, see page 70 of my book Ferment a guide to the ancient art of culturing foods, make some of that now, to enjoy in a few months time, when the only tomatoes to be had are the flavourless hot housed kind. But right now there is nothing like a well grown ripe tomato of any colour. An aunt of mine fed me ripe red tomatoes warm from the vine, in her Lincolnshire garden. I picked them and she then cut and covered half with a small pile of sugar, a memorable feast I no longer care to repeat but worth doing just once in a lifetime! The image above demonstrates perfectly what a small sprinkling of coarse salt does to vegetables, it draws out their moisture while adding valuable minerals, balancing their acidity and intensifying their flavour. Choose coarse sea salt, the crystal style looks pretty but Celtic is my preferred for its flavour and diverse mineral profile. With a slosh of fabulously fresh walnut or olive oil and a few drops of Jerez or red wine vinegar, a scattering of basil, sage, tarragon or thyme leaves and you have a very speedy, oh so easy dish to make those you feed swoon. A crust of sourdough, to mop up the juices completes the story, if you’re keen to learn to bake your own sourdough loaves or learn more about wholefood cooking and fermenting- check out my classes page here. I have been sharing my crop of summer tomatoes with a pair of very beautiful King parrots, so far we are tolerating one another well and thankfully there are plenty to go round. You can apply the same treatment to a wide range of fresh produce, try celery, fennel, radishes, daikon and cucumbers, alter the type of salt, oil and the seasonings, to keep things culturally related and your set to never cook again!
When thinking ‘no fuss cooking’ I am guessing preparing whole octopus does not immediately spring to mind but if you are at the fish markets I recommend buying a handful of small firm whole octopus and cleaning them, so that you can then slow cook them to unbelievable tenderness. Once cleaned, simply toss them in a heavy casserole with a teaspoon of good olive oil, a few garlic cloves a sprig or two of rosemary and a crack of black pepper, lid on, on the lowest heat and left for 11/2-2hrs while you go for a swim, on your return you will have something absolutely sensational, to eat cold over the coming days – it keeps brilliantly, for 3 or 4. If you’re game, try my signature green tea noodles with octopus, which was the cover image of my first book Nourish, Food by Holly Davis. I served this at a catering job last week and was reminded how much I love this dish and how great it is to have on hand, so I thought I would share it with you. Nourish is out of print, so I am providing images of the relevant pages, how to clean octopus and the recipe.
©Geoff Lung Photography