Dreaming of Tomatada

My cooking journey started when I was in primary school on weekends when my brother and I were enlisted in the kitchen to help with peeling and chopping of what then seemed like interminable mounds of garlic, onions and potatoes. There was some pounding with the pestle and mortar, and of course, stirring whatever was in the pot on the stove.

Lisboan Canape

This canape reminds me of those days. It was served as a complimentary canape at a restaurant in Lisbon during a blisteringly hot summer afternoon and it was the perfect way to wind down and settle in for lunch. Tomatada on bread dipped in olive oil. It’s commonly served in both Portugal and Spain, and I suppose the Iberian Peninsula’s answer to India’s Tomato chutney.

There are many variations of Tomatada, and, as in all peasant cuisines, there is no one right way to make this lovely sauce. Some recipes call for herbs, onions, peppers etc. In my version, I skin, core and de-seed 2 tomatoes, and blend it with 2 or 3 cloves of garlic. I then boil the mixture down for about half an hour. Serve chilled on a baguette with a drizzle of olive oil.

I used to make this for Friday evenings when William would knock off work a little earlier. We used to live in Canary Wharf back then, and the celebratory Friday mood would be everywhere with bars filled up by 5pm. I would shop at Waitrose for the ingredients after lunch, and round about 3pm, start making this together with the baguette. It altogether made an elegant start to the weekend with a glass of Shiraz.


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