Heritage Tomatoes with Basil and Balsamic Vinegar Recipe

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I am very specific about the kind of tomatoes I like to cook with as there is such a diversity of types and each can bring a distinct character to a dish. My preference is for slightly tart varieties — the Kumato or Green Zebra. The orange heritage (Persimmon) tomatoes tend to be less acidic, the orangey-yellow (Rainbow) ones are sweet, and the big fleshy red ones (beefsteak or Brandywine) are well-balanced all-rounders. Quality is also important, as bland, under-ripe, mealy tomatoes are no good for anything, that’s for sure. And don’t forget to use vinegar, be it balsamic, sherry, red wine or malt, as it really does help to highlight the flavour. Also look out for, and taste, the Italian Moscatel wine vinegar — it’s a light vinegar, not too different to a sherry vinegar, with a slightly sweet, fruity taste.


  • 2 large sweet heritage tomatoes – red, golden or orange
  • 2 tablespoons thick, syrupy balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 15g basil, stalks removed
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Slice the tomatoes, removing the hard core where necessary.
  2. Layer the tomatoes on a large serving platter and drizzle over the vinegar and oil and scatter over the chilli flakes.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle over the basil leaves, tearing any large leaves into smaller pieces, and serve.
Serves 4, 68 calories, 3.7g carbs, 5.6g fat,0.8g sat fat, 0.5g protein

You could also serve the sliced tomatoes with any of these three alternative toppings:

Capers and parsley

Soak 3 tablespoons salt-cured capers in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry. In a frying pan, heat 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Add the capers and cook until they start to pop, then remove and set aside. Take the pan off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Pour the oil and vinegar over the sliced tomatoes and then scatter with the popped capers and 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley. Finish with a grind of freshly cracked black pepper.

Serves 4, 115 calories, 2.6g carbs, 11g fat, 1.6g sat fat, 0.8g protein

Anchovy and cracked green olives

Drain 4 anchovy fillets in oil and place in a frying pan with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Cook, mashing gently with a wooden spoon, until the anchovies dissolve, then stir in 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 100g cracked, pitted green olives. Pour over the sliced tomatoes and season with freshly cracked black pepper.

Serves 4, 118 calories, 2.3g carbs, 11.3g fat, 1.6g sat fat, 1.4g protein

Breadcrumb gremolata

Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and cook 50g fresh breadcrumbs slowly for 5–8 minutes until golden and crisp, stirring every 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Season with sea salt, the finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, dill or chives. Drizzle the sliced tomatoes with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and a splash of malt vinegar, and scatter the crisp breadcrumb gremolata over the top.

Serves 4, 140 calories, 8.5g carbs, 11.3g fat, 1.6g sat fat, 1.5g protein

Also from Mediterranean

Eating healthily has never been easier with Susie Theodorou’s Mediterranean. Susie explores how the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle choice and a pattern of eating based on rural life where people used to eat what they grew and enjoy it communally. Her approach embraces seasonal and nutritious foods, without the strict regime of a diet book. She does not focus on weight loss or weight gain but instead promotes a healthier and happier way of life. Raised by Greek-Cypriot parents on a diet of freshly picked, plucked and cooked food, Susie knows first-hand the benefits of eating traditional Mediterranean dishes. And because you are focusing on simple combinations of exceptional ingredients, this is cooking on a budget. A self-confessed ‘lazy cook’, Susie has multiple ideas for using olives, tomatoes, tinned fish, white cheese, homemade hummus, and simple dressings for meat and fish. There are also tips on how to feed more friends with less food, how to stock a Mediterranean larder to be proud of and how to eat seasonally.

Reprinted with permission from Mediterranean: Naturally Nutritious Recipes from the World’s Healthiest Diet by Susie Theodorou and photography by John Kernick and published by Kyle Books, 2018.

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
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