TOMATO AMORE WITH BREADSTICKS
The things that are important to me? Family, friends, outdoors and food. I am forever creating moments that will gather my favourite people. Last weekend, we all packed the car to head out for an early morning surf with the gang. Being the designated cook, I packed a few ingredients I had in my cupboard and some fresh vegetables from the local farmers’ markets for the post-surf feast.
The morning was filled with laughter and sunlight as we watched the waves rolled in and got ready to surf the line-up. Afterwards, wet and smiling and in search of full bellies, we wrapped bread dough around sticks and cooked over the camp fire. Dan Wheatley, a mate and father of two said, “Geez, my kids would love this! I’m going to make it with them next weekend.” I smiled and my heart sang with delight. This is exactly what I want to do, to inspire families to get outside and cook together, to share memories around the fire, put their electronics down and just connect.
I always have tinned tomatoes in my cupboard but the best thing about these is you can reuse the tins. You don’t even need to wash them out, the leftover tomato in the tin makes for a great sauce with your bread. My favourite brand of tomatoes are Mutti, as they are rich in flavour and quality, you can taste the sun in every mouthful. Bravo!
500 g strong bread flour
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 kg sebago potatoes, cut into 1 mm thick slices (see note)
2 brown onions, roughly chopped
5 x 400 g tins Mutti cherry tomatoes
1 x 130 g tube Mutti tomato paste
2 Italian salami sausages, cut into 2 mm thick slices
bunch of spring onions, left whole
Paella dish or large frying pan
1:Light your fire about 30–60 minutes before you are going to feed the family and let it burn down until you obtain a medium heat. Place the flour in a large bowl or on a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast and 1 cup warm water and mix until combined (if not all the flour is incorporated you may need to add a little more water).
Knead the dough for about 7 minutes or until well combined and a smooth ball has formed. Cover and place near the fire for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size (not too close – you don’t want it to start cooking).
2: Layer the potato slices over the base of a paella dish or a large frying pan, scatter over the onion and top with the cherry tomatoes and juices. Fill two tins with water and pour over the top. Squeeze the tube of tomato paste into the dish, then scatter the salami over the top and around the edges. Add the spring onions and season with salt.
Place the paella dish on the fire – you want to make sure there is gap of about 20 cm between the dish and the coals. I used logs to create this gap but bricks work well too. If you’re not confident cooking over a fire, make sure you have your logs or bricks in place before you light it. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the potato slices are soft and the liquid has reduced to a thick consistency, similar to tomato paste.
3: Meanwhile, find some sticks that are good for wrapping the bread stick dough around. Roll out golf-ball-sized portions of dough to a rectangle about 10 cm x 3 cm. Brush with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then wrap around the sticks, pinching gently to secure the ends? Cook over the fire for about 5 minutes, rotating the stick regularly to get a nice even colour. You could also put balls of dough in the unwashed tomato tins and place in the hot coals to cook bread rolls – they should take about 10 minutes.
Note: Don’t wash or peel the potatoes before slicing – you want to keep the starch on them to help thicken the sauce.