Friday 8 May 2009

Vegetable Magnetism - The Food of Love.

Tomatoes are pretty darned sexy, wouldn’t you agree? They’re indisputably curvaceous, definitely rosy, undeniably juicy and incontrovertibly luscious. First, a homage from Pablo Neruda to put you in the mood ~

it's time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth,
and fertile
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.
(Extract from Oda al Tomate)

Putting its sheer magnetism aside for a moment, if the onion is the vegetable that can make you weep, the tomato is most certainly the one that can make you smile. The moment you lay eyes on a basketful of bright, ripe, red tomatoes, you can't help but get happy!

Tomatoes never fail to conjure up memories of childhood holidays at our hideaway paradise next to the sea on the wild western coast of the Cape Peninsular. The fisherman’s wife who brought us the catch of the day each evening would often bring a big basket of her freshly harvested vegetables for us to choose from as well. Late into the summer, her bounty included luscious, tangy smelling tomatoes. My mother would cut up the luscious jewels and mix them with fresh basil, oregano, and thinly-slithered onions, then drizzle them with olive oil. We'd gorge on bowls of tomatoes served with Italian bread while sitting outside at the old wooden table under the shade of a tamarisk tree. It didn’t matter one jot how much of the sweet, oily juices dribbled down your chin.

Here is the quickest and easiest and yummiest recipe for a tomato tart ever! Try it this weekend and they’ll love you ‘til next Friday evening. Guaranteed.

Tarte Nyonsaise

Take 110g/4oz puff pastry
1 beef tomato, cut into slices
Handful of fresh basil leaves
55-85g/2-3 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
Several Niçoise (or Kalmata) olives, pitted
1 teaspoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to season
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Then roll the pastry out thinly on a floured surface. Next, cut a large circle out and place on a non-stick baking tray. Crumple the edges of the pastry roughly using your fingers. Pop the tomato slices in the middle of the pastry circle, fling over the olives, drizzle with oil and then top with the basil. Sprinkle the cheese over and season with black pepper. Finally, brush the edges of the tart using the egg wash and then bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until crisp and golden.

Sheer deliciousity!


Pyzahn said...

Wow. Poetry, art and a recipe. That's a trifecta of sheer delight.

I love a good tomato with all my heart and stomach. Such great memories of a kid, leaning over the kitchen sink and biting into a big ripe tomato. Juice running down my chin. Ah.

And just as much I love Pablo Neruda. A nice companion for your lovely painting.

What a wonderful visit I had here.

Amy said...

I love fresh tomatoes so much it's crazy. I'll eat them until the sides of my mouth break out with little acid bumps and even then I'll eat while wincing in a bit of pain.

This post makes me just a bit sad because I can't get my husband to touch a tomato unless it's pureed and my kids pick the tomatoes out of everything I dare put them in.

In the past week, I've single handedly put away five pounds of tomatoes just by eating them with fresh basil and soft mozarella. (Can one overdose on tomatoes?!)

I'm going to make your recipe even if I have to eat the entire thing myself!

Grace Albaugh said...

I've already copied and will make it this weekend. Thanks for a wonderful post.

Loni Edwards said...

A wonderful post! I can't wait to try the recipe! It looks delicious!

Elizabeth said...

Gosh, you make me feel as if I could be adventurous in the kitchen.
Also such an amazing picture of the beach and what a beach.

Rosaria Williams said...

Heavenly! Pablo Neruda, luscious fruit tart, Italian flavors. You've gone too far, Tessa. What's next/

Holly said...

LUSCIOUS= my favorite word. Really. And, that is a fab recipe and picture. I can't wait until the tomatoes are ripe at our home. I hope you have a grand Mother's Day weekend.

Bee said...

That tart DOES look delicious.

Love your memory of oiled tomato juice running down your chin. I hope we have enough heat this summer to ripen the tomatoes properly.

I have been in a tomato mood as well, and made some fresh salsa (tomatoes, onions, coriander, lime juice, garlic, salt) to go with our fajitas tonight.

Jinksy said...

You always seem to show something yummy just when I feel peckish - with nothing available to peck!!

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

Yes, thank goodness for the tomato! And, thanks alot for making my tummy rumble:) Have a Happy Mother's Day, Tessa. And, I want to share the first part of Neruda's ode which I love:

The street
filled with tomatoes
light is
its juice
through the streets.

Eleonora Baldwin said...

my day was not one of the best. I returned home and found my baby asleep. The nanny left, I was alone in the empty house. Empty fridge. Empty stomach. No tomatoes.

I knew I'd find warmth here. But I wasn't expecting the bonus Neruda, the colorful bowl of Tessa-tomatoes and a very interesting recipe all fitted into an effective insta-healer. Thank you!

Ti voglio bene.

Delwyn said...

Its funny that we can all be transported back to childhood by the humble tomato. I can smell freshly picked tomatoes - that lingering green vine smell. My dad had a glass house and his tomatoes retained the 'real' flavour when supermarkets stocks lost theirs.

My favourite at the moment are farmers' market grape tomatoes or cherries still on the vine.
I am going to try your tart too, thanks Tessa - tomato tart tessa!

DW Quilt Art said...

yummy yummy post :-) I can't wait for our crop to come in (will be at least 2 months). :-) Diane

sallymandy said...

Yum-mEEE! I can't wait to try that. You--and Neruda--pegged the tomato for its luscious wonderfulness, without which summer wouldn't be the same. The other ingredients in your recipe are perfect for bringing it all out.

I love the verbs you used--Pop those tomatoes, fling those olives. Lovely post and painting, Tessa. ♥

kj said...

tessa, ah, so you are also a writer and a recipe sharer and a woman who understands her priorities. to honor the tomato proves everything i initially thought about you. i am so glad to have discovered your blog, and i am glad for your visit to mine.

i'll plant tomatoes in my garden and they'll be ready in august. three kinds for me: big boy, best boy and cherry.

i don't know when, but soon i will be devouring and salivating over your paintings. they remind me of jonathan green. do you know of him?


Beth Kephart said...

You make me envy anyone who is in the kitchen with you.

Angela said...

Right after the "Ice-Saints" I will put my tomatoes out! They will grow in the front of my vergetable garden, and in summer they will be shining in the sun and make everyone stop and stare at them! You are so right about the wonderful tomatoes, and you painted them just accordingly! Thank you, Tessa!

pRiyA said...

Oh gosh! That tart looks so magnificent!!
Tomatoes are selling five rupees a kilo here. I can't tell you how much of them I've eaten.....
Damn we don't get puff pastry here. Its twelve pm at night, I'm hungry and I could EAT that entire tart in your pic.

Ces Adorio said...

Okay my dear friend: Do you paint every food you prepare and eat? This is delicious. As for tomatoes being very sexy or was in sensuous, perhaps you did not even mention these adjectives but now that's what I think they are...the grape tomato over a bed of corrage cheese is my favorite lunch, even though I am not supposed to eat tomatoes. I love forbidden fruits!

Doid you make the tarte? Tessa, your childhood is one exotic package. Now I see you and I so alike, inspired by our happy past. Thanky you my dear.

Ces Adorio said...

...and please pardon my typographical errors. Just imagine I am some exotic friend of yours with a heavy accent and a lot of hand waving while talking and lip pursing in there too.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Great recipe. Our tomatoes are months away from being ripe (it is cold up here, there were slugs, we were late in the first place and had to start again) but I will go out and buy some to make this. Yum, yum, yum.

Sarah Laurence said...

Your painted tomatoes look ripe enough to eat. The recipe sounds yummy. And a poem. Impressive! I look forward summer tomatoes every year.

On your post below: lucky you to meet gorillas in the wild. It is a struggle to protect them.

Joyce said...

I adore a big red ripe juicy tomato. I ate them the entire time I was pregnant with my second child. I can't wait until they are in season here so I can bite into one. Loved the poetry and the art and the delicious recipe. Thanks for letting me take a peak at your amazing post today. Off to dream about tomatoes:)

Unknown said...

Yum-yum - I am totally with you on the lusciousness of tomatoes! Nothing better with basil and mozzarella, nothing better all juiced up with a splash of vodka, nothing better stuffed with other delicious things. Yes, we can all do homage to the tomato!
Did you know that they're very good for digestive woes and all sorts of other things - something about the lycopene in them.

Debra Keirce said...

Yum! I have always loved tomatoes. Now I know why!!!

Ces Adorio said...

Happy Mother's Day you beautiful woman-mother YOU!

Reya Mellicker said...

Sheer deliciousness? YES. Love the painting and yes I love tomatoes especially straight off the vine. There's nothing like that fruity flavor. Yum.

david mcmahon said...

My TRUE moment of maturity came when I realised that tomatoes were actually to be enjoyed.

As a kid, I loathed them!

PS: Have you ever put your art on RedBubble? If not, Google it or use the link off my sidebar. I think you'll like the site ....

Lori ann said...

Wow is right! after reading all these wonderful comments and nodding my head to each I am out of words! so i say what everyone before me has said oh and Happy Mother's Day Tessa dear!
☺ ♥ lori

Love Pablo, love him.

A Cuban In London said...

I am a tomato tart (pun intended! ;-D). Fat, ripe and red, I love those big tomatoes that I used to get in Cuba. My local market stocks some very good ones, but I usually stay away from the ones at Tesco and other major supermarkets. What a lovely recipe, tomato, basil, olive oil, they all blend together. And a poem by Neruda to boot. I loved the image and the drawing and the ambience... and... and... I just loved this post :-).

Greetings from London.

Caroline said...

Perfect - just what I need to take to a potluck lunch tomorrow! Thank you!

Renee said...

That looks delicious. Tomatos, olives, cheese, is there anything better?

Love the painting of the bowl of tomatos. Gorgeous.

Love you.


Cheffie-Mom said...

Great blog! Congratulations on the Post of the Day Award from authorblog!

Jewels said...

Oh my god. I had to stop myself from licking the screen!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, my goodness...and it's right before dinner as well!!! I'm salivating!!!! Wonderful post!!!! Congrats on POTD!

Hana Njau-Okolo said...

Fresh red ripe tomatoes! I like its canals the best. Every slice. I used to eat mine fresh out of our garden in Nairobi, the red soil scent hanging on...

pRiyA said...

tessa, i've been trying and trying to comment on your latest posts but its not happening for all kinds of strange blogworld reasons. (and not just on your blog). so i will comment here once more. i loved your latest beautiful daughter post.

you know you are truly blessed when you have these moments happen to you!