South Leigh Seasonal Recipes

When there are plenty of fresh tomatoes around make a big batch of Tomato and Caper Sauce. It makes a delicious accompaniment to barbecued fish and seafood, especially seabass, swordfish or tuna steaks and is also a great pasta sauce.

Home grown tomatoes often have a thick skin, but can be easily peeled before using them in sauces, soups and stews. Cut a little cross in the base of each tomato, then, working in small batches of 3-4 at a time, plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for up to 25 seconds. When you see the cross-cut begin to open lift them out of the hot water with a slotted spoon and quickly refresh them in ice-cold water. The skins will then come off very easily.

Raspberry compote goes surprisingly well with savoury as well as sweet dishes, so freeze in small batches and enjoy throughout the year.

Here's to summer! E.L.

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Tomato and Caper Sauce (Makes approx. 1 litre)

2 tblsps olive oil
2 shallots or 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed
50g capers, drained and roughly chopped (unless they are very small capers)
approx. 1kg fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped,
or 3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp tomato purée
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
a pinch of sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tblsp roughly torn fresh basil or mint leaves

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for three to five minutes, until the onion has softened but not browned and the mixture is fragrant. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir in the oregano, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce is thick and fragrant. Stir in the basil or mint, taste and adjust seasonings and serve hot or at room temperature.

To make this sauce into a traditional Sicilian Caponata, chop 1 aubergine and 2 courgettes into 2-3cm chunks. Scatter them on to a large baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Roast in a very hot oven (220ºC / Gas 7) for 10-15 minutes until they are soft and beginning to brown. Add to the Tomato and Caper Sauce and stir to mix. Sprinkle with more basil or mint, if needed.
Filo Feta Parcels with Raspberry Compote (Serves 4, as a starter or 2, as a main course)

200g Feta cheese, cut into four equal-size blocks
4 sheets filo pastry
olive oil
For the raspberry compote:
250g raspberries
50g caster sugar
2 tsps balsamic vinegar or lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 200ºC / Gas 6.
Prepare the raspberry compote. Place the raspberries and sugar in a heavy-based pan and heat gently until the juices are released and the sugar melted. Increase the heat and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Add the balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, to taste.

Lay out a sheet of filo pastry. Brush with olive oil then lay a second sheet on top. Cut in half so that you now have two oblongs approx. 18cm x 25cm. Place a block of cheese at the short edge of each oblong and wrap up the cheese by folding in the sides and rolling the block up. Brush each wrapped block with a little more oil. Repeat with the remaining sheets of pastry and blocks of cheese.

Place the parcels on a lightly oiled baking tray and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until the parcels are golden and crisp.

Serve each parcel with a spoonful of raspberry compote.