Saturday, August 1, 2020


Tomato season is peaking! Big ones or little ones, from the garden or from the farmers’ market, heirloom varieties or not, ripe tomatoes are what you want. Eat one right off the vine or cut it up in a salad. Chop a few and sauté them in olive oil. Roast them on the grill or slice them into a sheet pan. Nothing says summertime quite like tomatoes.

Tomatoes weren’t always big and red and at home on the Mediterranean. The originals, discovered in Peru and Mexico by Spanish explorers and conquistadores early in the 1500s, were yellow and not much bigger than peas. The pre-Columbian Peruvians didn’t cultivate them, but gathered them wild in season. Like many other botanical curiosities from the New World, tomatoes were brought back to Spain and cultivated in monastery gardens.

Perhaps because they were unknown or maybe because they belong to the same family as deadly nightshade, tomatoes were believed to be toxic if eaten. They were grown as a handsome ornamental.

If the Spaniards couldn’t see gazpacho in their future, the Italians must have had an empty place just waiting for tomato sauce to put on their spaghetti. After the kingdom of Naples came under Spanish rule in 1522, tomatoes were introduced there and slowly gained culinary ground. The Italians are credited with breeding red varieties.

To celebrate the tomato in Spanish cooking, here’s a listing of recipes that have appeared on this blog with tomatoes as a star ingredient. Maybe not quite fifty, but close enough. Enjoy!

Salads and Cold Dishes

Pipirrana is a chopped salad with tomatoes and peppers often served as a tapa.

Fresh Tomato-Pepper Salad (Pipirrana).           Tomato-Pepper Relish.

Moroccan Chopped Tomato Salad.                   Tomato-Cucumber Relish (Piriñaca).

Salpicón, seafood cocktail with tomatoes and avocado.
Shellfish Cocktail with Tomatoes.

Tomatoes and Peppers with Tuna (Titaina Valenciana)

Layered Gazpacho Salad.

Cobblestone Salad with Chickpeas.

Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice Salad.

Tomato-Tuna-Olive Dunking Salad.

Sliced tomatoes with anchovy dressing.

                  Beefsteak Tomatoes with Anchovy Dressing.

                  Spanish Mixed Salad with Tomatoes.

Bread and Pastries with Tomatoes

Pan con tomate, classic toasts with tomato, olive oil and ham.

A summery quiche with tomatoes.

Catalan Toasts.

Tomato Quiche.

Gazpacho and Soup

Gazpacho and its variations are emblematic of summer in Spain.

Andalusian Gazpacho.                                      Classic Gazpacho.

Country Gazpacho.                                           Gazpacho Cream (Salmorejo).

No-Bread Gazpacho.                                        Mango-Tomato Gazpacho Cream (Porra)

Gazpacho Bloody Mary.                                   Gazpacho Granita.

Gazpacho with Shrimp.                                    Gazpacho with Macaroni.

Hot Gazpacho with Figs.                                  Tomato Soup with Bacon.

Sofrito for Seafood Soup.                                 Monkfish Soup.

How to serve gazpacho? Clockwise from the left, in plastic cups for a picnic, in a tall glass, in mugs, in a fancy coupe, in bowls and, as shooters for passing at a gathering, in shot glasses.  Garnishes are optional; good when served in bowls.

Vegetables with Tomatoes

An all-vegetable stew (alboronía)

Sauté of Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes.

Pumpkin Stew with Tomatoes and Peppers.

Vegetable Medley with Tomatoes and Zucchini.

Tomato Sauces

Smooth or chunky, fresh tomato sauce goes with many foods.

Sofrito (Basic Tomato Sauce).

Tomato Sauce with Chorizo and Pasta.

Tomato-Sherry Sauce with Fish.

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Stuffed Peppers.

Chicken, Meat, Fish, Eggs with Tomatoes

A summertime stew with pork and vegetables cooked in tomato sauce (pisto con magro de cerdo) .

Pork and Vegetable Summer Stew.                               Pork with Tomato Sauce.

Chicken with Tomato.                                                   Chicken Braised with Wine and Tomatoes.

Stuffed Peppers with Chunky Tomato Sauce.               Lamb Stew with Roasted Tomatoes.

Paella with Sofrito.                                                        Fish Baked with Potatoes and Tomatoes.

Baked Eggs with Tomato (Flamenco Eggs).                 Eggs Poached in Tomato with Cheese.

Tomato-Vegetable Stew with Chicken.

Paella always begins with sofrito,  crushed tomatoes fried in olive oil.


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