First, as a perfect accompaniment to grilled lamb chops, steaks, chicken or fish, there’s tomatoes provençal – nice big thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, seasoned with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, herbs de provence and a really good fruity extra virgin olive oil, that I warm through on the grill on a double thickness of aluminum foil over the indirect heat of my charcoal fire.
You can start them over direct heat to get them bubbling along, then move them over indirect heat to finish, and don’t forget to save all that lovely juice and oil to drizzle over the tomatoes when you serve them as a side dish to your grilled meats or fish.
Second is a quick, grilled tomato sauce for pasta. Again, cut thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, stem ends and all, grill over direct and indirect heat of a charcoal or gas fire till charred and warmed through, transfer them to a bowl to cool slightly, then peel, seed and chop them and combine them with good olive oil, salt and pepper and fresh herbs like parsley and basil and toss the sauce in a big serving bowl with al dente spaghetti, angel hair or your favorite pasta – any shape is fine.
With lots of freshly grated Italian parm cheese, this is Italian comfort food at it’s best that would make any Italian grandmother very proud. A little grilled foccaccia or grilled crusty bread is really good too, so you can mop up the very last of the sauce left in your bowl.
My third tomato recipe is for a big batch of heirloom tomato soup – the perfect afterschool snack for hungry kids that’s healthy, warming, and filling.
Once again, season and grill thick slices of heirloom tomatoes over direct and indirect heat till lightly charred and cooked through, along with a sweet Vadalia onion cut into quarters and a few big cloves of garlic. Add all the grilled vegetables to a big pot with some water or stock to cover, simmer gently for about 10 minutes and puree the tomato soup though a hand-cranked mouli machine to make a rough puree.
Personally, I don’t like tomato seeds in my soup, so I even pass the soup through a strainer, which gives me a big batch of delicious and nutritious heirloom tomato soup for the week, which I can freeze in small containers or heat small portions in a pan on my AGA when my kids come home from school, with a little orzo pasta or rice added to the pot. Don’t forget to check the seasoning and serve with crackers and some grated parm cheese too.