Spanish Beef Tomatoes

There are a few stark differences between residing in Britain and living in Spain; the language isn’t the same; the summer in Spain is guaranteed (so much so that you could probably return your holiday to the Spanish government if it rained for more than a day); and the fresh produce is far cheaper, yet far better. To be fair that final point is tantamount to a sweeping generalisation, but unless one is actively willing to seek out superb tomatoes, fruits and vegetables in Britain one is likely to be disappointed. However, in Spain it is difficult not to stumble upon magnificent beef tomatoes the way they ought to be – large, colourful and ever so slightly cracked or split. To me there is little doubt that the reason behind this is the preposterous idea the supermarkets have that only food that looks and feels good is worthy of their shelves, despite the fact that these often haven’t finished growing or ripening. I say we do away with the waste and welcome what may not be considered first class produce into our supermarkets.

If there’s one thing we don’t see enough of in British supermarkets it’s local produce. Granted, my local supermarket stock beautiful cuts of Welsh beef and lamb, but apart from a smattering of fruit during the summer and a little veg during the winter everything is imported. I realise there are counter arguments to this, like the fact some ingredients have to be imported because they aren’t produced in Britain in meaningful quantities. But when a small corner shop in a tiny village in Spain, run by a happy-go-lucky woman with a blue fringe sells better tomatoes than anything found in Britain, there may well be something to worry about.

I suspect there is a danger that this post may have descended into an unbridled rant, so I shall leave it there – one ought not to attempt to pilfer Jamie Oliver’s principle hobby. Instead, it may be appropriate at this juncture to sing the praises of this fabulous mode of eating juicy beef tomatoes, or indeed any tomato. There could be nothing simpler than this “recipe” – one need only drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper – yet very few things are as delightfully effective. The seasoning, when applied liberally, brings out the flavour of the fruit exceptionally well – very rarely have I enjoyed a tomato quite as much as I did on this occasion. One characteristic I particularly enjoyed about this salad was the fact it showcased the tomatoes completely – it wasn’t trying to compete with anything, a situation in which the fresh tomato is at its glorious best. Please enjoy this little taste of Spain, one that shall find its way onto my table for years to come.

(If any of you were interested to see a few Spanish wedding photos, please head here)

Spanish Beef Tomatoes

Serves 4-6 alongside a main, or bread

Ingredients:

• 4 beef tomatoes

• Lashings of extra virgin olive oil

• Generous pinches of both salt and pepper

Method:

1. Quarter each tomato and place it on a serving plate. Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle over the salt and pepper. The more Spanish one is inclined to be, the more salt needs to be added – they love their salt.

Cost: Over here beef tomatoes are fairly expensive, but they are entirely worth it, if one can find the right specimen. Indeed, this plate of food might set one back as much as £2.20, whereas in Spain it would cost one little over half… perhaps less.

 

96 thoughts on “Spanish Beef Tomatoes

  1. Juls

    We’re fortunate enough here to have a good weekly market and a fantastic monthly farmers market. I think I picked up vegetables at the market once and then never returned to buying them at the supermarket. Tomatoes especially, the difference is astounding – where supermarket ones are watery and pale, the market tomatoes are vibrant, dark, rich and juicy (and a third of the price if one is up for haggling). It actually annoys me, the lack of local produce in the bigger shops. We ship all our apples out of the country and my cousin on an apple farm in South African says they ship all theirs over here. In the middle of asparagus season I couldn’t find a single asparagus that wasn’t from Spain in Sainsburys aisles. Samphire is so very indigenous to Britain and yet the supermarkets are plundering off French samphire at extortionate prices.
    Boy, you got me on a rant. I’ll leave that to be and, instead, get going with this lovely proffered recipe with my remaining beef tomatoes!

  2. birgitlikes

    I agree with you about the perfectly looking, yet tasteless vegetables in the supermarket. I read a shocking article the other day: in Tyrol, one of Austria´s provines, every week between 15 and 25 tons of carrots and potatoes are thrown away because they have little optic flaws as well as 15 tons of other vegetables. One farmer was so frustrated with that, that he put an ad in the local paper that he would give away vegetables with slight optic flaws for FREE. Only one person replied and this person just wanted some carrots for his horse. Talk about economic crisis and everybody complaining about the rising cost of food…

  3. EmmaMT from CakesBakesAndCookies.com

    That’s so freaky! I was just writing my post for tomorrow and it’s about Spanish cakes and pastries!

    We’ve just come back from Mallorca and it was seriously hot out there! I have to say that all their salads were actually a bit disappointing. All that is, except for the tomatoes! I couldn’t leave them alone, but the cucumber (I’m a cucumber addict it’s my fav veg… well that and tomatoes!) beetroot, carrots and the lettuce were so tasteless. It may be the resort and the fact that it was a budget hotel but I was really looking forward to being healthy! Very dissapointed. ;0(

    The tomatoes, and eggs strangely, were seriously deelish though!

  4. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

    I’d love these.. especially with your lashings of oil.. that just conjures up lusciousness, doesn’t it? What sweet, ripe tomatoes you have here.. I agree, the waxen images of tomatoes that droop lackluster on our grocer’s shelves have nothing in common with these fine specimens. We have sweet tomatoes in the Okanagan Valley.. and on occasion they find our way to our markets.. where I’m headed today! With a bit of good fortunate, I can pretend that I am eating a Spanish Tomato:D

  5. Conor Bofin

    Simple and tasty looking. I approve. I heard a BBC 4 programme on why importing lots of our food is the right thing to do. The chap making the case was making the economic argument for doing what one does best and at the lowest economic cost. Transport costs are a small part of the equation. He made a pretty cogent argument. However, the drab tasting perfectly formed Dutch tomatoes that are the norm across the colder parts of Europe are not helping his case. I have a French tomato sauce coming up later in my French holiday series (Mondays for the next few weeks).
    Best,
    Conor

    1. frugalfeeding

      Thanks, Conor… one mustn’t only consider the economic arguments. Besides, it is probably only economically better to import because we have ridiculous systems in place by which local food is exported and foreign food is imported… there are other factors to consider too, like the fact foreign food is always going to be sold at the supermarket, whereas local produce is more likely to be sold at a green grocers, thus supporting local economies on many levels. I shall look out for your French holiday series!

  6. Dawnies Kitchen

    So very true. I’m not a fast-food fan, but even I’ll eat a Whopper in Spain because the beef tomatoes are such a wonderful accompaniment!

    The fact that supermarkets won’t sell food that doesn’t look perfect is nonsense. As you say, they are quite happy to sell it when it doesn’t taste perfect!

  7. Michelle

    We have the same problem in the U.S.grocery stores. Luckily, in the Summer, I seldom have to darken their doors. Hope your vacation was grand!

  8. thesparechangekitchen

    Oh, sublime! Is there anything better than a flavourful tomato? One of my pet hats is thoase nasty grainy tomatoes that have no flavour. I mean really? Why eat them? You might as well suck on a wet chux! We are in the second day of spring in Australia and that means delicious tomatoes are on their way! I planted my tomato plants a few weeks ago and cannot wait for masses of flavourful goodness to arrive!
    Gorgeous wedding by the way…..LOVE the dress and the simplicity of it all. Perfect!

  9. Karista

    I’d like to eat a plate of these right now! I love sweet, juicy tomatoes and these look so delicious. We get lovely heirlooms here. Probably the one of the few sweet, juicy tomatoes other than the small cherries. Lovely post Frugal! Love the pictures :)

  10. Bam's Kitchen

    Great ingredients. Great Recipe! When the ingredients are so fresh and wonderful like this the plainer the better so the taste of the product comes through. Maybe in HK or in other places in the world where we have cardboard tomatoes I would need to add some balsamic … to and add some flavor.

  11. Debs @ The Spanish Wok

    I agree with most of what you say. However, not everywhere in Spain offers such quality produce. You have no idea how often I go to the local supermarket only to be faced with not fresh veg, but veg that should now be in the bin. A lot to do with not re-stocking regularly enough and just wanting to sell every item. Of course nobody is going to buy such produce. Also, onions here can be a problem, all the best one are exported to the UK and we get left with the not so good!!!! But when it’s fresh and good, it’s good. That’s a gamble though.

    Anyway, your dish is lovely. Another and probably more common way to serve this tomato dish is simply cut as yours and just sea salt applied. Delish.

    BTW You are welcome to join in my monthly food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here for entry details and current theme. New theme each month. All bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

    1. frugalfeeding

      That’s not necessarily a problem though, you just pick through it – besides some veg is better when it’s past its best – very ripe tomatoes are best for tomatoes sauces for instance. I understand what you’re saying though. I’ve not had a problem with Spanish onions, they were the same quality as what I pick up in Britain and the spring onions in Spain are incredible!

  12. silverbells2012

    The Mediterranean countries are so much better for tomatoes – in Greece, I used to get practically a sack full of huge, huge tomatoes for a few drachmes at the farmers’ market each Thursday. Still, at the moment I am able to obtain very good toms via my local organic farm, thank goodness.

  13. Karen

    The photos of your tomatoes is lovely. The tomatoes in the market are tasteless. I grow heirloom tomatoes all summer so that I can enjoy their wonderful taste and at the end of the season make sauce to have all winter.

  14. Shira

    Gorgeous tomatoes Nick! I was spoiled too in Provence with the tomatoes, but am happy to have returned home to the Okanagan tomatoes which are just rolling in now!! Loving those photos & tomatoes are one of my all time fave foods :)

  15. baconbiscuit212

    What beautiful tomatoes! When they are in season, I like to take advantage of them as much as possible. And if they’re really good, I agree that it’s best to do as little as possible in terms of preparation.

    Your photos look amazing too!

    Just getting the chance to catch up on blog posts now! Defense is over! You can now call me Dr. Daisy :-)

          1. baconbiscuit212

            Fingers crossed for next year. As you said, doors open and close and you never know what will happen. I don’t know what will happen to me in the future either. I’m burnt out and need a break. I never took one between my undergraduate and graduate studies and am really feeling it right now. And also, you never know what will happen :-)

  16. egg me on

    Truly awesome. Makes me want to visit Spain just so I can eat these tomatoes. And possibly say hello to that goat (??). Looks like you’re having a fantastic trip!

  17. Our Growing Paynes

    We experience the same thing with the farmer’s markets when we go back home to visit my in-laws in Swanage. They have the market but most of the produce is from Spain. When we move back we will miss our farmer’s market with fresh local veg.

      1. Our Growing Paynes

        Though I have to say the tomatoes from Spain tasted very good. Stateside, tomatoes sometimes travel from Mexico and you definitely lose flavour when it travels that far. We plant heirloom tomatoes and the flavour is wonderful.

  18. emily

    Beautiful! This picture is the epitome of summer for a Californian like me. Granted, I’ve not been to Spain, but my love affair with vine-ripened tomatoes might be motivation enough. I’ve recently become obsessed with smoked salts and can imagine how seriously savory these would be with a generous topping of the coarse, crunchy stuff. (See a similar recipe I just posted with cucumbers as the star ingredient on the ol’ Pig&Quill.) Now I’m particularly looking forward to the last few tomatoes I hope to glean from my plant before it sings its Swan Song. Great post.

      1. emily

        They are! I would recommend Trader Joe’s as the place to go for an inexpensive version, but I fear you may not have TJs where you are (though I’m sure you’ve got plenty of fun shops that I am without). Perhaps a care package exchange is in order one day…

  19. Natalie Ward

    The worst looking knobly tomatoes always taste the best! The ones here that everyone loves have hardly any seeds either. Adding a little sherry vinegar to your salad would (in my opinion;) make it even better! Tomatoes always taste better in Spain, it’s the warmth of the sun I think !

  20. Pingback: Pinterest Recipes » Spanish Beef Tomatoes « FrugalFeeding

  21. whitsendmom

    Nothing like Spain! and nothing like a fresh tomato salted–vine picked is best. And @ yummania, I love the description “heart of the bull!”

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