Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

In Recipes on February 18, 2011 at 4:52 am

Lots of fresh basil

This 1978 spoof of 1950s B grade schlock horror films had a ridiculous plot in which killer tomato plants turned on humanity.  The plot seemed very far fetched at the time but, with the recent high prices and low quality of tomatoes in the fruit shops and supermarkets, it no longer sounds so implausible.  We all know that awful, fibrous, tasteless fruit that they sell as ‘gourmet’ tomatoes in the supermarket.  Even if you shell out a bit more for the ‘truss’ or Roma ones they are still vastly inferior to the homegrown tomatoes that I remember from my childhood.

The other day I was down at my parent’s place on the Bellarine Peninsula.  We had our usual lunch sitting in the garden looking out over their grape vines.  The food was beautiful mainly due to the freshness of the ingredients.  We had greens and kipfler potatoes that had only been picked an hour or two before we were eating them, the hard boiled eggs in the potato salad were fresh from the  chook pen and the sourdough bread that they served with runny Brie was made by my Dad using their own sourdough starter.  Nice though these ingredients were, the rich, red freshly grown tomatoes were definitely the stars of the meal.  My son, who has never been a fan of tomatoes, was urged to try some and quickly became a convert, I even saw him going back for a second helping.  Full of flavour and generously sized they were nothing like the awful tomatoes that are grown commercially.

Knowing that we are urban dwellers with limited growing space Mum and Dad are always generous with their homegrown vegetables and herbs.  This time was no exception.  I received a large quantity of tomatoes along with some fresh basil, zucchinis and cucumbers.  Mum had even potted up some of the herbs that we didn’t already have in our pot garden downstairs, for us to take home.  I didn’t want to waste anything so I made tomato sauce (Mum’s recipe) and pesto.

Look at these beauties!

Tomato Sauce


3 kg fresh tomatoes

5o0 g peeled and cored apples

500 g onions (peeled and chopped)

6-8 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)

1 1/2 tsps allspice

1 tsp chilli powder

2 tbs sea salt

500 sugar

a good pinch of ground cloves and freshly grated nutmeg

600 ml cider vinegar

1 1/2 tsps curry powder


Roughly chop the tomatoes and place in a large pot.  Add all the other ingredients.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently with the lid off for 3 hours.  Stir occasionally to make sure the sauce doesn’t catch on the bottom of the saucepan.  Cool.  Pass the mixture through a sieve or a mouli.  Return to the saucepan and bring to the boil.  While still hot ladle into clean, sterilized jars.  Screw the lids on tightly.

Basil Pesto


6 cups fresh basil leaves

100 g toasted pine nuts

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 cloves garlic (peeled)

1 cup olive oil (plus extra for packing)

Homemade tomato sauce and pesto


Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until they are smooth and well incorporated.  Spoon into sterilized jars and top with a thin layer of olive oil.  Store in the refrigerator.

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