Heirloom Tomato Recipes

Roasted TomatoesHeirloom recipes for heirloom tomatoes: Janet Wynne Evans provides dishes and wines for this month's toms, two ways

There's a national awareness day, or even a week for everything we eat and drink these days from asparagus to zinfandel. Some of them feel more like marketing exercise than seasonal celebration. That National Tomato Week, for instance, takes place in May makes no sense to me as a consumer, when so many other riches are competing for attention on my plate, some of them all too fleetingly.

Because I dream (and it is, usually, a dream) of a home-grown tomato that has lingered long in the sun, summer must be very well advanced before I get excited enough to make it the star ingredient of Flavour of the Month. If the love-apples should go all pear-shaped, and twice as acid, they can always be slowly roasted into submission and dressed to kill (in a good way) as below. At least I can say I tried, especially if my offerings have the built-in wow factor of being multicoloured.

Heritage or heirloom tomato varieties are no longer minority sport. They have definitely arrived, not only in our seed catalogues, but on the shelves of any greengrocer with his finger on more than the pulse. Step forward the deeply ridged Mexican Tlacolula, the faintly striped Green Zebra, the curvaceous, almost purple (and highly topical) Ukrainian Black Krim, the Chocolate Cherry, the luscious yellow Lollipop or the über-cool Roman Striped, on which a pair of Ray-Bans wouldn't look amiss.

A first impression is one of genetic engineering gone mad, but it aint necessarily so. These obscure, often pretty old and doubtless demanding varieties have (hitherto) fallen outside the mass-commercial imperative to breed for uniformity and physical perfection at the expense of natural sweetness and concentration. The nonno of all heirloom tomatoes, Italy's San Marzano is proof of that as anyone who has eaten a tricolore on the Amalfi coast may have noticed. Realistically, of course, our climate is probably better suited to the confidently-named Sub Arctic Plenty!

At the very least, these colourful characters will make any tomato dish look twice as appetising, though the two recipes below will conjure summer magic from much less exciting varieties. Finding the wine to handle them is a bit trickier (see below) but would you handle your heirlooms with anything but care?

Janet Wynne Evans

Two Heirloom Recipes

As ever with these deceptively simple salads, the end result relies on the quality of the other ingredients - wine vinegar that's balanced and mellow not brash or harsh and, when it comes to the mozzarella, a ball of the real buffalo McCoy either from Campania or from the excellent artisanal dairies now making this cheese here. In the glass, a delicate 'bite' between sweetness and acidity is needed to work with these qualities in the tomatoes themselves. Southern Italian whites, fruity rosés and reds are always reliable options, but a number of Alsace varieties - notably gewurztraminer or pinot blanc with a dollop of generous auxerrois - are surprisingly good too.

Stephane Reynaud's Mozzarella and Slow-Cooked Tomatoes

(From 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down and Eat by Stéphane Reynaud, Murdoch Books, 2010)

I often dip into this day-by-day trawl through the gastronomic year. The author is chef-proprietor of Villa 9 Trois in Montreuil - the Paris suburb, alas, not The Society's French outpost in the Pas-de-Calais, or I'd be there all the time. His writing is as amusing as his cooking is deadly serious. In the best French tradition, every recipe is dedicated to the saint whose feast day it is. On this occasion, we give thanks to Sainte Mariette, an Italian martyr of relatively recent vintage.

Cook's Note: There are two obvious temptations below for the thrifty, the calorie-conscious or the impatient among us. One is to reduce the quantity of oil, and the other is to shorten the cooking time because the tomatoes look ready, or about to collapse after a couple of hours. Resist on both counts. The tomatoes won't fall apart and the extra time infuses them with a truly astonishing depth of sweetness and herby concentration, facilitated by their bath of fragrant oil, which makes for a fabulous combination with the creamy, salty cheese.

Serves 6 as a light main course with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

  • 12 heirloom tomatoes
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 80ml olive oil
  • Whole salt crystals, ideally fleur de sel
  • 6 balls buffalo mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de provence (dried)
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked

Preheat the oven to 100C/200F

Place the tomatoes in a roasting tin. Peel and chop the garlic, scatter the garlic over the tomatoes, add the olive oil, the salt crystals and the Provence herbs Bake for 3 hours. To serve place 1 ball of mozzarella and 2 lukewarm tomatoes in each serving bowl and add some cooking juices and basil leaves.

Eli Zabar's Oil-Free Tomato Salad

This inspired idea comes from New York catering legend Eli Zabar who grows the most urban of heirloom tomatoes on the roof of his destination café, The Vinegar Factory on the Upper East Side. Eli reminds us that the tomato is a fruit: leaving aside the scrumminess of the recipe above, what other fruit would we habitually drench in olive oil? The acid in the vinegar and the salt here draw out the juices and assist the tomatoes to make their own dressing. I have been making this ever since I saw it demonstrated on The Barefoot Contessa by the man himself, with his buddy, the admirably well-connected Ina Garten, who furnishes another top tip - use a bread knife to slice the tomatoes. See? Sometimes it pays to watch the box instead of going for a bracing ten-kilometre walk. For your next Big Apple adventure, check out elizabar.com.

Cook's Notes: Heritage tomatoes vary in size, from cherry to beefsteak. A decent portion would be two medium ones, like Green Zebra, along with a few halved cherries and a slice or two from a big'un, but err on the generous side - it will all disappear!

This is best made just before it's required, because some of the tomatoes will fall apart or become pappy if kept hanging about. However you can get away with making it a good couple of hours ahead of time and storing it in the fridge. Remember to bring it to room temperature half an hour before you serve it.

  • A selection of different heirloom tomatoes or a mixture of heirlooms and standard tomatoes, washed and dried
  • Fresh tarragon, washed and dried
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Premium quality red wine vinegar

Using a serrated or bread knife, slice or wedge the tomatoes. Different shapes add to the appeal.

Season generously with sea-salt flakes and drizzle on a tablespoon or two of the red wine vinegar.

Snip in the tarragon leaves and add a few grinds of black pepper. Finally add a little more of the vinegar to taste. A stolen tomato is no more than a cook's perk.

Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature, to let the flavours settle. Serve as it is, or with grilled lamb, steak or fish.

Match of the Day


  • Sannio Greco, Janare 2013
  • Cirò, Barone di Bolaro 2012

Premier League:

  • Hatzidakis Santorini 2013
  • Fuentes Listan Negro, Tenerife 2013

Director's Box:

  • Gewurztraminer Folastries, Josmeyer 2011
  • Montefalco Sagrantino, Scacciadiavoli 2007

August 2014

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.


4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies: Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.