Preparation

Preparing tomatoes starts with two things: a good wooden cutting board and a set of sharp knives for peeling, coring, slicing, and chopping. For large, meaty tomatoes, a potato peeler can also come in handy.

SLICING - for all types of tomatoes

LONG-SLICING - for larger tomatoes

Place the tomato on your cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut into slices from the bottom to the top; discard the ends.

Using a chef's knife, cut into quarters and seed (p139). Lie flat and slice thinly on the diagonal.

CHOPPING AND DICING - for all types of medium to large tomatoes

Once you have cut your tomatoes into long slices (above), gather them under your hand and position so that they are perpendicular to the knife. Chop coarsely, or cut into dice as thinly as you need (the latter is known as a concassée.)

PEELING - for tomatoes to be eaten in salads

Using a serrated knife, make a small incision near the stem end. Peel carefully, rotating the tomato as you go, as though you were peeling an apple.

SKINNING BY CHARRING - very good for plum, globe, and cherry varieties

1 Using tongs or a fork, hold the tomato over an open flame until the skin is blistered. For a smoky taste, char on a charcoal grill.

2 When the tomato is black all over, put in a plastic bag to sweat. Cool slightly, then use a blunt knife to peel away the skin.

SKINNING BY BLANCHING - ideal for plum and globe varieties

Cut a small cross on the bottom of each tomato. Blanch in very hot water for 15-20 seconds until the skins start to loosen.

Have a bowl of ice-cold water ready. Plunge the tomatoes into this to refresh. Remove with a slotted spoon.

3 Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, use a knife to peel away the skin.

CORING - useful for large, chunky tomatoes, which can have "woody" cores

Use a paring knife to remove the core from tomatoes while they are still whole. Simply make a conical incision in the top of the tomato, slicing around in a circle; pull out the core and discard.

SEEDING - don't throw the seeds away—save them for making dressings

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