“A cooked tomato is like a cooked oyster: ruined.”
Andre Simon, The Concise Encyclopedia of Gastronomy

As a writer with a penchant for fresh oysters and summer tomatoes, this quote fits squarely into my culinary logic. Personally, a weeknight meal consists of little more than a ripe tomato, sliced, salted and layered on buttered dark bread. Inspired by a painting by a Scottish Colourist, I became preoccupied with preserving the range of tomato colours as well as the summer taste as the season began to wane here in Australia. By braising the tomatoes over low heat for a limited amount of time, this recipe for sweet tomato relish seeks to preserve the fruit while maintaining the flush of summer ripeness.

Francis Cadell, Still Life (Tomatoes), c.1920
oil on board, 37 x 45 cm, Private collection

Francis Cadell’s association with the Scottish Colourists stemmed from his early exposure to the French avant-garde movement of Fauvism. Still Life (Tomatoes) was painted while Cadell was living in Enderburgh and by isolating the tomatoes upon the stark linens, he is able to reinforce the saturated colour of the fruit. While in Scotland, Cadell had little contact with the rest of the European arts community and tended to depict the elements in his immediate environment in the vivid colours embraced by the Fauvists and Scottish Colourists.

{Sweet Tomato Relish}

Yield: 3 cups

1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon rock salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
handful fresh parsley, chopped

In a large saucepan, add the chopped onion, ghee, rock salt and thyme. Over medium-high heat, saute the onions until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.

Simmer the relish for about 20 minutes over medium low heat. Stir occasionally but not vigorously as not to break up the tomatoes completely. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before storing in an airtight jar. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.