Yotam Ottolenghi’s late-summer tomato recipes (2024)

There’s no fruit or vegetable I associate more with summer than tomatoes. Sweet, small cherry tomatoes, mainly, eaten by the handful, as though they were grapes. So many of the dishes with which I’ve had summer flings over the years have had this little “love apple” at their heart. The rusk-like Cretan dakos biscuits I fell for a couple of years ago, for example, piled high with chopped tomatoes; the simple chopped salad of cucumber, tomato and feta that I often have for breakfast whenever the sun is shining; the tomatoes topped with sumac onions and pine nuts that I served alongside just about every other dish last year.

For all the iterations of my summer fling, the tomatoes are always there: sun-sweet, perfectly ripe and simply sliced or chopped, with no cooking and little else needed to help them on their way.

As summer gives way to autumn, I am still happy to eat my tomatoes raw – that heady sweetness has been intensified further by extra weeks in the sun – but now there’s also room for a little bit of cooking. Those large beef tomatoes, say, are great as they are, chopped and dressed as you fancy, but they are also very happy sliced and grilled, or hollowed out for stuffing and baking. My beloved cherry tomatoes hop on a platter with some roast red onions and chickpeas, or get a little bit of roasting themselves, before being served with maybe some nicely contrasting cold yoghurt, lemon zest and chopped fresh oregano.

Hot charred cherry tomatoes with cold yoghurt

The key words here are in the title: hot and cold. The beauty of this dish lies in the exciting contrast between hot, juicy tomatoes and fridge-cold yoghurt, so make sure the tomatoes are straight out of the oven and the yoghurt is straight out of the fridge. The heat of the tomatoes will make the cold yoghurt melt, invitingly, so make sure you have plenty of crusty sourdough or focaccia, to mop it all up. Serves four as a starter or mezze.

350g cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp light brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
3 sprigs thyme
5g fresh oregano, 3 sprigs left whole, the rest picked and roughly chopped, to serve
1 lemon – zest of one half shaved off in 3 wide strips, the other half grated
Flaked sea salt and black pepper
350g fridge-cold extra-thick Greek-style yoghurt
1 tsp urfa chilli flakes (or ½ tsp regular chilli flakes)

Heat the oven to 200C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the tomatoes in a baking dish that’s just large enough to accommodate them all snugly. Add the oil, cumin, sugar, garlic, thyme, oregano sprigs, lemon strips, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are beginning to blister and the liquid is bubbling, then turn the oven to the grill setting and grill for six to eight minutes, until the tomatoes start to blacken on top.

While the tomatoes are roasting, mix the yoghurt with the grated lemon zest and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, then return to the fridge.

Once the tomatoes are ready, spread out the chilled yoghurt on a platter (with a lip) or wide shallow bowl, and make a few dips in it here and there with the back of a spoon. Spoon the hot tomatoes on top, as well as the pan juices, lemon peel, garlic and herbs, and finish with the remaining oregano and chilli. Serve at once with some good crusty bread.

Spicy tomato salad with celery and horseradish salsa

The salad equivalent of a bloody Mary (though without the vodka, I’m afraid). Everything can be prepped in advance, but don’t assemble the dish until you’re ready to eat, otherwise the bread will go soggy. Serves four, as a side dish.

2 celery stickes, cut into 0.5cm dice
15g parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely grated fresh horseradish
½ tsp celery salt
1 lemon – zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, then juiced, to get 2 tbsp
90ml olive oil
1-2 slices sourdough, crusts left on (80g net weight)
½ garlic clove, peeled
700g mixed ripe tomatoes (ideally, a mix of heritage, beef and cherry, in as many shapes, colours and sizes as you can get), large ones cut into 1cm-thick slices, cherries cut in half
2 tsp Tabasco
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Mix the celery, parsley, horseradish, celery salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and 60ml oil in medium bowl.

Put a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and ventilate the kitchen. Brush the bread all over with a tablespoon of oil and, when the pan is smoking hot, grill the bread for about a minute on each side, until toasted with visible grill marks. Remove from the pan, leave to cool a little, then rub one side of each slice with the half-clove of garlic (the toast will act like a grater). Roughly cut the bread into 6cm pieces and put to one side.

Put all the tomatoes in a large bowl and season with Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, the remaining tablespoon of oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Stir, then arrange the tomatoes on a platter and scatter over the bread. Drizzle the salsa evenly over the top and serve.

Beef tomato carpaccio with spring onion and ginger

The quality of the ingredients make this dish, so you’ll need top-notch tomatoes as well as the best sherry vinegar you can afford (Valdespino, for preference). The salsa is glorious spooned on all sorts, from toast topped with mozzarella and/or avocado to roast chicken, so double or triple the quantities, if the mood takes you; it keeps well in the fridge for a few days. Thanks to Ixta Belfrage for spotting this on a next-door table in Chinatown, and being intrigued enough to ask for a plate to try. Serves four as a side dish.

3cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (10g net weight)
Flaky sea salt
3 spring onions, very finely sliced (45g net weight)
40ml sunflower oil (or other flavour-free oil)
2 tsp good-quality sherry vinegar
400g beef tomatoes (about 2), cut into 2mm-thick slices
1½ tbsp finely shredded coriander leaves
¼ green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil

Put the ginger and a half-teaspoon of salt in a mortar, crush to a fine paste, transfer to a bowl and toss with the spring onions.

Heat the sunflower oil in a small pan on a low flame until just warm – you don’t want it too hot – then pour over the spring onion and ginger mix, and stir in a teaspoon of vinegar.

Lay the tomato slices on a large platter (about 25cm in diameter), slightly overlapping them, season with a quarter-teaspoon of salt, then drizzle over the remaining vinegar. Spoon the salsa evenly over the top – or use your hands to better effect – scatter over the coriander and chilli, and finish with the olive oil.

Roast red onion and chickpea salad with tomato and tahini

Yotam Ottolenghi’s late-summer tomato recipes (1)

This salad is all about combining fresh tomatoes with crisp chickpeas. Just don’t mix them together, or the chickpeas will soften (and turn floury) in the moisture. Serves four.

400g tin chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry (230g net weight)
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 2-3cm wedges (200g net weight)
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1½ tsp ras el hanout
Salt and black pepper
About 60g tahini paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
600g cherry tomatoes, halved
15g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
10g mint leaves, finely shredded

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Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Mix the chickpeas in a bowl with the onion, oil, garlic, ras el hanout, a third of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, then spread out on a large oven tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until the chickpeas are crisp and the onion is soft, then leave to cool for five minutes.

Put the tahini in a large bowl with 60ml cold water, the lemon juice and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk together until it’s about as thick as runny honey, adding a little more tahini if it’s not quite thick enough. Add the tomatoes and herbs, and stir gently. Transfer the tomatoes to a large platter (or to four smaller serving plates), top with the crisp chickpeas and caramelised onions – don’t stir the two together though – and serve.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s late-summer tomato recipes (2024)
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