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.

 

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96 comments on “Spanish Beef Tomatoes

  1. thesinglegourmetandtraveller
    September 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I agree with you absolutely about the supermarket tomatoes v. little corner shop in Spain … fortunately for me I’m off to Spain in 2 weeks’ time so can indulge in a nice simple way to serve delicious tomatoes just as this recipe!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 12:18 am

      It’s hard not to agree :D. Awesome… I wish I were going back…

  2. cookinginsens
    September 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Nice photo. Nice plate.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 12:18 am

      As engaging a comment as ever, Rosemary :D.

  3. Juls
    September 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    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!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 12:17 am

      Ah, that’s cool, Juls! There are such differences between tomatoes, it really is incredible. Haha – it really is THAT annoying isn’t it?!

  4. birgitlikes
    September 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    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…

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 12:09 am

      Blimey… that is a disgusting waste… I would have been all over those vegetables! IT utter hypocrisy…

  5. EmmaMT from CakesBakesAndCookies.com
    September 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    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!

    • EmmaMT from CakesBakesAndCookies.com
      September 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      The wedding looks beautiful by the way.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 12:08 am

      Haha! I’ll check it out… how strange. Yes, Spanish salads aren’t always great unless you make them yourself… one can’t be healthy in Spain… I certainly wasn’t…

  6. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen
    September 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    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

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 12:07 am

      You would! Oil must always be lashed… I hope you find what you’re looking for :D

  7. Conor Bofin
    September 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    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

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 12:05 am

      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!

  8. Margarita
    September 2, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Great pictures of all the tomatoes…the ones on the plate and the ones at the wedding. Thanks!

  9. Dawnies Kitchen
    September 2, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    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!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 12:00 am

      OH no, oh no… you can’t eat a whopper in Spain… no, no, no… get yourself a chuleton and a beef tomato… THAT is Spain! Haha.

  10. Michelle
    September 2, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    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!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 12:00 am

      Ah, very good, Michelle – home grown… that’s what I like to hear.

  11. thesparechangekitchen
    September 2, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    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!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      Thanks! There is not! I have no idea what a chux is… :D It was an incredible wedding!

      • thesparechangekitchen
        September 8, 2012 at 11:48 am

        Haha, I think its an aussie thing. I said it to a friend the other day and they looked at me blankly!! http://www.chux.com.au Its not that exciting…..its just a wipe!

        • frugalfeeding
          September 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm

          Oh right… I think it must be an Aussie thing… I’ll simply have to buy some :D

  12. Karista
    September 3, 2012 at 12:22 am

    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 :)

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      You should… it’s not difficult :D. Thanks Karista! We don’t get many varieties of tomatoes here… not easily.

  13. Bam's Kitchen
    September 3, 2012 at 12:37 am

    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.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:58 pm

      Thanks! Simplicity is a must with great produce!

  14. Debs @ The Spanish Wok
    September 3, 2012 at 9:12 am

    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.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 11:24 am

      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!

  15. silverbells2012
    September 3, 2012 at 10:49 am

    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.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:57 pm

      Absolutely – different climates suit different produce (obviously)… I’m not in a good position for acquiring amazing produce at the moment which is a shame.

  16. Pauline
    September 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Simple and quick to make. I bet it’s as quick to disappear! From here, your plate looks like summer!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 11:07 am

      I could eat these all the time, so they did disappear fairly quickly. That plate IS summer :D

  17. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    September 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Oh to live in a place where summer ISN’T guaranteed. Spain does look gorgeous don’t get me wrong, but oh to complain about cold in July.

  18. Karen
    September 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    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.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 11:23 am

      Thanks, Karen! That really is the best way to go to be honest – commendable :D

  19. moveeatcreate
    September 3, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Good, quality tomatoes eaten this way are one of the most satisfying foods/flavors out there. These look beautiful!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 11:06 am

      They really are… their flavours speak for themselves.

  20. magefesausa
    September 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I love that recipe!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Thanks! Though the word ‘recipe’ probably gives a little too much credit…

  21. Shira
    September 3, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    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 :)

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Thanks, Shira! Tomatoes are up there for me too. I must visit Provence…

  22. baconbiscuit212
    September 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    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 :-)

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Thanks! They really speak for themselves in terms of flavour. Ahha – awesome stuff, Dr. Daisy… Alas I didn’t get the funding for my masters…

      • baconbiscuit212
        September 5, 2012 at 12:05 am

        Oh no! Those bas******ds! So sorry to hear. Did they say why?!

        • frugalfeeding
          September 5, 2012 at 12:06 am

          Too many people to fund… oh well… as one door closes another opens… I’ve deferred the entry anyway – perhaps it’ll happen next year… perhaps it won’t :D

          • baconbiscuit212
            September 5, 2012 at 12:09 am

            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 :-)

          • frugalfeeding
            September 5, 2012 at 12:15 am

            Exactly! Oh you, you must have a break!

          • baconbiscuit212
            September 5, 2012 at 12:16 am

            I saw an advert for scuba divers in the Caribbean. I neither scuba dive nor know anything about island life, but boy did I want to apply!

          • frugalfeeding
            September 5, 2012 at 12:17 am

            You should… lie about it… then learn before you go…

          • baconbiscuit212
            September 5, 2012 at 12:19 am

            I like the way you’re thinking :-)

          • frugalfeeding
            September 5, 2012 at 12:20 am

            It gets the job done… or the job secured, I should say.

          • baconbiscuit212
            September 5, 2012 at 12:55 am

            Very true!

          • frugalfeeding
            September 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

            I only speak the truth…

      • baconbiscuit212
        September 5, 2012 at 12:11 am

        I just realized that I am repeating myself. See! I need a break ;-)

  23. Katrina Tauchen
    September 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    I could eat tomatoes for every meal, and these look amazing! Beautiful photos, too! They make me long for a getaway.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:52 pm

      Me too… and I do! :D Then you must get away…

  24. Purely.. Kay
    September 3, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Since I can’t eat tomatoes, I showed my mother this recipe, and she was just in aww. It was like we switched roles and she became resident drooler of the screen LOL

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:52 pm

      Why?! Haha – I like that you showed your mother!

  25. Somer
    September 3, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Sometimes simple is just best! Lovely!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      Absolutely – I’m a great fan of simple, Somer!

  26. Stephanie
    September 4, 2012 at 6:30 am

    Looks delicious! It’s like a caprese salad without the mozarella and basil!

  27. Aimee@clevermuffin
    September 4, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Hey goat! I hope there will be some more goat pics coming. I agree, there is nothing like cheap, and good quality Spanish produce…while in spain. Those tomatoes look to die for.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      I’m afraid there are no more goats to be had, but there’s a caterpillar on my Flickr page! Thanks, Aimee! They were wonderful tomatoes.

  28. egg me on
    September 4, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    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!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 4, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      The goats were lovely creatures :D. I’m back, have been for a while – haha.

  29. Our Growing Paynes
    September 4, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    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.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 5, 2012 at 11:05 am

      It’s annoying isn’t it? I can’t wait to get back to Bristol because I know a couple of great green grocers there.

      • Our Growing Paynes
        September 5, 2012 at 5:49 pm

        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.

        • frugalfeeding
          September 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm

          That’s a great idea. We grow them too, but not many at the moment.

          • Our Growing Paynes
            September 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm

            My MIL has to grow them in her little greenhouse in Swanage to get a little bit of fresh tomatoes. When we move back we’ll need a proper back garden to have a decent greenhouse!

          • frugalfeeding
            September 7, 2012 at 11:26 pm

            I can’t wait to have a place to myself where I can grow all manner of produce.

          • Our Growing Paynes
            September 8, 2012 at 12:12 am

            It’s wonderful. We started out small but it’s rapidly growing. It’s hard to stop!

          • frugalfeeding
            September 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm

            Nothing like expansion :D

  30. emily
    September 6, 2012 at 7:07 am

    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.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Awesome! You should visit – definitely. Thanks, Emily! I’ve never tried smoked salts… they sound divine.

      • emily
        September 10, 2012 at 5:18 am

        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…

        • frugalfeeding
          September 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm

          We definitely don’t have a TJ’s… Perhaps it is :D.

  31. Natalie Ward
    September 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    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 !

    • frugalfeeding
      September 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      They really, really do. I differ in opinion, but that’s life! Exactly, that and they get more sun in general.

  32. yummania
    September 15, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    they are the best.here in Albania , we call them `the heart of the bull` tomatoes;)

  33. whitsendmom
    September 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm

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

  34. kkmkk
    September 21, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Your photo’s are lovely! Everything looks so delicious.
    Teach me how to take pictures like you, please? Mine absolutely fail…

    • frugalfeeding
      September 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks! I don’t really know how to teach it… you just sort of… learn.

  35. rampage.blogger
    November 3, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    This, a tortilla and bit of tocino del cielo and you can die happy.

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