Warm up for the summer

A warm tomato salad and a creamy pasta dish should wow family and friends alike

Warm Tomato Salad.

Warm Tomato Salad.

Sat, Jun 22, 2013, 11:43

Some dishes, despite being warm or hot, are absolutely great in the summer time. This warm tomato salad has become one of my favourite things to eat in recent weeks; its only downside is that it really has to be consumed as soon as you’ve made it, as it isn’t great the next day. However, this is an unlikely scenario, as you will be munching on this until every last drop has gone. That’s how tasty and moreish it is: a bit like a warm panzanella with no pesky cucumbers.

Like the chickpea salad recipe from a few weeks ago, it also has plenty of olive oil but feel free to reduce this, especially if you are eating it as a mid-week supper as opposed to making it for a special dinner.

Using lots of really good quality olive oil enriches a dish beautifully. It’s why you always see us flashy chefs adding glugs of the stuff to finished dishes. It adds a very special something. But if I were making something like this midweek, then I would definitely reduce the amount of olive oil, possibly ditch the bread, and leave out the Parmesan. It won’t be half as “wow”, but would still be a great way to use up loads of tomatoes that are facing an inglorious end in the compost heap, as they’re a little too sad for a nice salad.

Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that cooking tomatoes – even for two minutes – really increases the amount of lycopene in them, which is that great anti-oxidant found in tinned tomatoes.

It seems like an oxymoron of sorts to suggest that cooking something actually increases its nutritional value, but in the case of tomatoes, that’s what happens (although their vitamin C content is diminished, so eat an orange too).

This pasta dish is rich and creamy and therefore falls into summer comfort category. It is wildly popular in this household and contains some chopped up sundried tomatoes that always add a little sparkle to dishes.

I use raw, frozen prawns, but these could just as easily be left out for vegetarians. Just add a few more sundried tomatoes instead. Or you could saute off some courgettes separately and add them, where I say to add the frozen prawns.

It’s the type of dish I make when I’m trying to get some brownie points at home. After a week-long ritual of steamed greens, roast sweet potatoes and lots of salads, even the cat was giving me the cold shoulder. This dish was a Saturday night treat and helped me to ingratiate myself once more with the family.