Every month we feature a fruit or vegetable that is in season, along with a fun fact or recipe idea. We are currently working on a project, Citizen’s CAP, highlighting the importance of citizen involvement in agricultural policy to ensure healthy food and protection of our agricultural land. In a way, this is a continuation of a previous project, AgroKatina, through which we have published a report on the local fruit & vegetable supply chain. Find out more on www.foemalta.org/agrokatina, where you can also order a free copy of the pocket guide to seasonal fruit and veggies.
Tomatoes (classified as vegetables in NSO reporting, even though technically a fruit) is the most produced “vegetable”, by weight, in Malta, as reported in 2014. These plump fruit are from the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, which includes the next most widely produced crop in Malta, the potato, and also other crops such as eggplant and peppers. The tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, has thousands of cultivars which make a beautiful array of shapes, sizes and colours. Only a few of these varieties are grown in Malta—my favourite being the more traditional local cultivars, such as the juicy tadam ċatt and the elongated tadam żenguli. The flat tomatoes are no longer sold in the great abundance that they used to be available in, but this summer I did manage to get my hands on some from Louis Cini, an organic farmer based in Mellieħa, and also at the Marsaxlokk Sunday Market. Surely these are also available from the Farmer’s Market.
Despite my usual preference towards heirloom crops, I also take delight in spotting new additions to the market, such as the small yellow-pear tomatoes that I had bought from the Veg Box, from which I was also lucky enough to managed to get a plant growing. Either way, tomatoes are a staple for a ħobża biż-żejt or any other imaginable dish, from salads, pasta sauce or caponata.
Recently I had watched a great film by Agnes Varda, called the Gleaners and I, and inspired by gleaners that live off of the waste that is left from a superfluous food industry, I got my hands on a lot of tomatoes that were going to spoil. What to do when you have over 5 kgs of tomatoes that are going to end up going bad? Sun-drying or making plenty of tomato sauce are the first things that came to mind, but instead, we made a very refreshing improvised Gazpacho. Try out the recipe!
This is a cold soup recipe—there is no cooking involved, only blending.
- 10 ripe tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 small spicy pepper
- 1 small onion (or spring onions)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- juice of 1 lemon
- a bunch of fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch of ground pepper
- pinch of salt
- Fresh coriander and basil to garnish
- Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to garnish
- Skin the tomatoes. This can be done by either bringing them to a boil and then placing in ice cold water, or else if they are very ripe, the skins can be peeled off with a knife. If the skin doesn’t bother you you can also keep it on. Chop into rough pieces. Skin the cucumber if you prefer, I personally kept the skin of this one on. Chop up the rest of the ingredients into rough pieces, just to make the blending a bit smoother.
- Place all the ingredients (apart from those to garnish), into a blender a pulse until smooth.
- Cool the gazpacho in the fridge until it is refreshingly cold.
- Serve with basil, coriander and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic.
The gazpacho goes well with toasted Maltese bread. Enjoy!
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This article reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
This project is co-financed by the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs, and Civil Liberties.