August is prime tomato season - and it's time to bypass the leathery cricket balls of bland supermarket tomatoes, and head straight to the little Piccolo tomatoes . They're packed with flavour, and taste as fragrant as he inside of an English greenhouse on a warm day.
They're full also of vitamins, and they lend themselves to very easy cooking - just throw them into a one-pot dish, pasta or salad for an instant flavour-bomb.
Pair with parsley, basil or mint to bring out their freshness, and eat cooked or raw. They also make perfect snacks for lunchboxes when the kids go back to school.
Here's three super-easy weeknight dinners made with tomatoes - all guaranteed delicious.
SEAFOOD & TOMATO PASTA
Seafood pasta is always a classic, only made better with great British tomatoes. This deliciously simple dish combines the two for a perfect summer dish
3tbsp olive oil
4 British Large Vine Tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
Few drops of balsamic vinegar
160g small scallops
180g tagliatelle or linguine
200g cooked, peeled prawns
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus extra to garnish
6-8 British Piccolo Tomatoes, halved
30g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and red onion and cook over a low heat for 10-12 minutes, until very soft, adding a splash of water if needed. Season with salt, pepper and a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
2 Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle or linguine in lightly salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes, until tender.
3 Add the scallops to the tomato mixture and cook for 2 minutes, then add the prawns, parsley and piccolo tomatoes. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, until heated through.
4 Drain the pasta. Gently stir through the tomato mixture and share between two warmed serving bowls or plates. Serve, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and extra parsley.
Cook’s tip: No scallops available? Use a few more prawns and add a handful of thawed frozen peas.
To skin tomatoes, put them into a heatproof bowl. Pour over boiling water and leave for 15-20 seconds, then drain. The skins will be easy to peel away.
PICCOLO, LEMON ZEST, SAGE RISOTTO WITH BURRATA
The ultimate in comfort food, this risotto really packs in the flavour, balanced by the natural sweetness of the whole Piccolos.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1½ tbsp tomato purée
280g risotto rice, such as Arborio
knob of butter
100ml white wine
1 litre stock (made with 1 vegetable or chicken stock cube)
1 lemon, zest only
10 sage leaves, chopped
50g Parmesan, finely grated
250g Piccolo cherry tomatoes, left whole, stalks removed if preferred
115g burrata, divided into quarters
1 heaped tbsp toasted pine nuts
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the shallots, stir well then cover and cook over a low heat until soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and tomato purée and cook for another minute.
2 Stir in the rice with a knob of butter, continue to stir and cook for another minute. Pour the wine into the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for a minute for the rice to absorb the liquid. Add a quarter of the stock and cook to allow the liquid to be absorbed – keep adding more stock as it is absorbed. Stir from time to time.
3 Add the lemon zest and chopped sage. Cook uncovered, stirring from time to time, for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and very creamy. Finally, stir in the Parmesan cheese.
4 Meanwhile, heat another pan with a dash of olive oil and cook the tomatoes over a high heat until softened.
5 Divide the risotto among four plates, topped with the Piccolo cherry tomatoes, a quarter of the burrata for each serving, some toasted pine nuts, and a drizzle of olive oil.
This dish doesn’t take much longer than the 30 minutes needed to roast the Piccolo cherry tomatoes. Perfection.
750g Piccolo cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finally chopped
1 tsp tomato purée
100g pitted black olives, roughly chopped
8 anchovy fillets in oil, drained, roughly chopped
2 tbsp capers, drained
1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh basil
freshly grated parmesan
fresh basil, to garnish
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 5. Tip the Piccolo cherry tomatoes onto a baking tray and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes.
2 Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. Heat a dash of olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and red chilli and cook for a few minutes until aromatic. Add the tomato purée and cook for another minute.
3 Remove the roasted tomatoes from the oven, pour any excess liquid into a bowl and set aside. Add the tomatoes (along with the chopped olives, anchovies and capers) to the pan with the garlic and chilli. Sprinkle over the chopped basil. Add a splash of the excess tomato liquid if necessary.
4 Drain the spaghetti and serve with the puttanesca sauce topped with freshly grated parmesan and extra basil.
Watch: This 5-minute, No-Cook Ina Garten Recipe is My Favourite Way To Use Up Extra Tomatoes