Recipe: Tomato Relish With Garlic, Thyme, and Purslane

Instead of blanching, peeling, and chopping the tomatoes, as classic French cooking suggests, cooks in Greece grate the tomatoes in an onion grater to get the tomato pulp. The seeds are not discarded, because they are particularly flavorful. I serve this with grilled fish, poultry, burgers or any meat. It can also be a fresh and fragrant topping for toasted whole-wheat bread or pita, especially if you spike it with some crumbled feta or ricotta.

Serves 4 to 6

    • 2 to 3 fresh green chilies, minced, or good pinches Aleppo pepper, to taste
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 cup fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
    • salt, to taste
    • 5 cups small heirloom tomatoes, halved
    • 2 teaspoons fine lemon zest
    • 1 1/2 cup purslane sprigs, or 1 cup grated cucumber
    • a few grinds black pepper (optional)

Mix together the chilies, garlic, thyme, one tablespoon lemon juice, and olive oil in a bowl. Add salt to taste and mix thoroughly. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes and up to two hours.

Halve each tomato vertically, cut off and discard the stem, and carefully grate in a large-holed grater, cut-side facing the holes. Discard the skin that will remain in your hand.

When you are ready to serve, add the tomatoes, lemon zest, and purslane or cucumber. Toss and taste, to correct the seasoning, maybe adding more lemon and some black pepper.

To read Aglaia's story about how Greek cuisine evolved to eventually embrace the tomato, click here.

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Aglaia Kremezi writes about food in Greek, European, and American magazines, publishes books about Mediterranean cooking in the U.S. and Greece, and teaches cooking classes. More

Aglaia Kremezi has changed her life and her profession many times over. She currently writes about food in Greek, European and American magazines, publishes books about Greek and Mediterranean cooking in the US and in Greece, and teaches cooking to small groups of travelers who visit Kea. Before that she was a journalist and editor, writing about everything, except politics. She has been the editor in chief and the creator of news, women's, and life-style magazines, her last disastrous venture being a "TV guide for thinking people," a contradiction in terms, at least in her country. She studied art, graphic design, and photography at the Polytechnic of Central London. For five years she taught photography to graphic designers while freelancing as a news and fashion photographer for Athenian magazines and newspapers. Editors liked her extended captions more than the pieces the journalists submitted for the events she took pictures for, so she was encouraged to do her own stories, gradually becoming a full time journalist and editor. You can visit her website at www.keartisanal.com.


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