‘In this world of uncertainty and woe, one thing remains unchanged: Fresh, canned, puréed, dried, salted, sliced, and served with sugar and cream, or pressed into juice, the tomato is reliable, friendly, and delicious. We would be nothing without it.’ Laurie Colwin (American author)

And she is right. Tomatoes are extremely versatile. They’re also a great source of vitamin C and a good source of fibre, and the vitamins A and B. Plus, when tomatoes are cooked, lycopene — an antioxidant found in tomatoes — has shown promise in fighting prostate cancer. 

One of my favourite summer recipes is a Caprese salad — fresh ripe-but-firm tomatoes, fresh mozzarella (sliced) and basil leaves — the colours of the Italian flag. I also add a dash of dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper. The salad’s origin dates to post World War 1 Italy and was developed by a patriotic partisan. The first printed mention of the Caprese salad was on a menu at the Hotel Quisisana on the island of Capri – hence its name.

As I write this, fresh tomatoes at my supermarket are $7.49 a kilo. This seems preposterous. It’s a winter price in summer. All being well, its temporary. I hope you’ve had the chance to plant your own. Mine are flourishing.


I did not peel the tomatoes but you could, if preferred. Great served on grilled cheese toast, grills and cold cuts.  

1kg ripe tomatoes, chopped
3 medium red onions, thinly sliced
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4cm piece root ginger, peeled and grated
1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon each: salt, chilli flakes

Place all the ingredients in a large heavy saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are mushy.

Increase the heat and boil for another 30 minutes or until a jam-like consistency is reached. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture sticking to the base. Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal. Makes 4 cups.


A quick, delicious lunchtime salad. Use different coloured tomatoes if possible. Ensure the baby salad leaves are rinsed and crisp.

Dressing: 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Salad: 1 cup baby salad leaves
70g feta cheese, crumbled
4-5 ripe tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons blueberries, optional
2-3 basil leaves, sliced 
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk the ingredients for the dressing until smooth. Place aside.

Place the salad leaves in a large shallow bowl or on a dinner plate. Crumble half the cheese on top. Arrange the sliced tomatoes over the cheese. Top with more crumble cheese. Garnish with the blueberries and sliced basil. Season.

Drizzle with the dressing just before serving. Serves 2.


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large lamb leg steaks, trimmed
freshly ground black pepper to taste
400g can diced tomatoes
1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 teaspoon each: dried basil, oregano, thyme
250g pack cherry tomatoes
8 pitted black olives

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Season the lamb steaks with pepper. Pan-fry until lightly browned on both sides. Place in a shallow casserole. Add the canned tomatoes, onion and herbs. Top with the cherry tomatoes and olives. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 30 minutes or until the lamb is tender. 

Can be garnished with chopped spring onion or fresh herbs. Serves 4.


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