Over the last few years we have adopted a pattern of beginning our holiday in northern Spain before heading to our beloved cottage in the Languedoc. This decision is based on the guaranteed blue skies of Spain, a touch of healthy tourism and of course, the abundance of inexpensive fish, fruit and vegetables; this time returning with huge nets of unwaxed Valencia oranges and lemons.

Holiday cooking is fun – different places, markets and ingredients to explore. I know that not everybody necessarily agree with this sentiment but, I choose to self-cater to enjoy a very relaxed, haphazard approach to what and how I prepare dishes. Mixtures include whatever is on hand: melons, peaches, tomatoes, cucumber; acidic-sharp cheese. I love to slow roast pork that is fragranced with garlic, orange and rosemary; freshly roast chicken, grilled bream and spiced squid all enjoyed with ice cold white Rioja or a velvet-smooth red, depending on time of day.

Back in Bouisse my pace changes to suit how many of us are here and to accommodate passing guests though what I really enjoy is to be able choose from a selection of flavor packed dishes, all ready and waiting in the fridge. As one dish empties I fiddle about to create its successor but making sure that quantities aren’t so large that it would pass its best before it can be eaten.

Not having the luxury of infinitive leave, hubbie is gainfully employed at his office desk in Paris whilst I enjoy the southern summertime with our children (just 1child and a dog at the moment, my daughter having a fabulous time in Canada) and a trickle of guests… this is my time to eat exactly what I really enjoy – a plethora of fruit, artichokes, lentils, beans of many descriptions, cheeses, cured meats, dark rye breads…. Hmmmmm…

Tomatoes are ripe and plentiful so require little more than a sprinkle of sea salt and drizzle of oil or the addition of mozzarella and basil for a substantial supper dish but I still can’t resist buying the string mesh of ‘economy’ to cook to a thick sauce as the base for all sorts of tasty treats. Their flavour isn’t so great but this isn’t a problem – oven roast to develop flavour and increase sweetness; they are a sinch to skin when cooked this way too:

Oven Roast Tomato Sauce

Quantities are variable but I find that there is enough here to last a few days to make a fresh, tasty pasta sauce fry onions and garlic until soft, add a couple of spoonful’s of tomato sauce and a pinch of chilli and shreds of fresh basil. Pour over your favourite pasta and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese), pizza base topping and anywhere that calls for canned tomatoes. The possibilities are quite endless…

1kg tomatoes
Olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
800g can tomatoes
Pinch sugar
Sea salt & black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Place the tomatoes in a roasting tin, sprinkle with olive oil and roast for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and slip off the skins when cool enough to handle.

Warm a little olive in a medium sized saucepan and cook sweat the onion and garlic until soft but not coloured. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until it has reduced to a thick marmalade like consistency, occasionally stirring to break down the tomatoes as they cook. Cool and sore in the refrigerator until required.