My last post was a tale of woe about the lack of damsons on the trees this year, compared to last. This summer has been a wash out here in the UK. We had a few days which were beautifully sunny but they were few and far between. Nevertheless, the garden has performed quite well this year, despite the lack of summer or perhaps because of it. The runner beans have flourished and we tried a purple bean this year, which has been lovely, although it loses its colour when cooked and looks like a green bean. Sweetcorn has been a great success, last year it was hopeless, and it is hard to describe how sweet and delicious corn is when cooked within minutes of picking. We have pumpkins in abundance. So many, I am not sure what we will do with them all. I have so many cucumbers, from just the one plant, that I could supply the local supermarket.
Our tomatoes though have not been as successful as previous years. We tried several varieties and a yellow and a cherry variety have been the most successful. However, the woodlice really like the yellow variety and have been enjoying themselves no end once they were finished with the strawberries. As a result, no woodlice were spared when I was splitting a load of logs the other week. No longer do I have any sympathy with the wood louse! Despite all of this, we have still had enough tomatoes to make a few batches of this roasted tomato sauce. I have used it as a pizza sauce; mixed into a risotto to stuff a roasted pumpkin; as a base for soup; and as a pasta sauce.
Roasting the tomatoes makes them sweeter and even more tomatoey. I add garlic cloves (unpeeled) and thyme or oregano, salt and pepper and plenty of extra virgin olive oil. Cook them in a moderate oven (180°c, gas mark 4, the baking oven of the Aga) for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool a little, pop the garlic out of its skin, and then blitz the whole lot in the processor (or you could use a food mill). I don’t bother to strain through a sieve, but if you want a smooth, seed-free sauce then you should.