You say tomato, we say Kumato

The Kumato is the funkiest little tomato on the plate this season.

Forget the boring red tomato – if you want to turn heads this summer, serve (and grow) the smaller, very distinctive-coloured Kumato.

A mix of brown, red and green colouring the Kumato, which originates from Spain, is fuller in flavour than traditional varieties that we’re used to.

These days though Australia is the leader in mini Kumatoes, and leading the charge is the Moraitis Group, which grows it exclusively for the local market.

But we can thank the hard work of growers such as Greek couple Andy Kakouris and his wife Porta for this cute-as-a-button fruit, as they started the first crop in Australia in 2004.

‘‘I love ’em,’’ says Andy, in his thick Greek accent.

‘‘I pick them like an apple and eat them for breakfast. We’re passionate people – we’ve had good years and bad years.’’

It’s hard not to be inspired by Andy, who arrived in Australia many decades ago with only one bag, when he talks about his 1.2-hectare crop of Kumatoes, which grow hydroponically in a glasshouse at Tartura in Victoria.

‘‘They’re easier to grow than the red tomatoes,’’ he says.

Apart from the interesting colouring, he says they are low in acid and high in sugar, which makes them much tastier than the usual tomato plus they are not hard to grow.

‘‘Right now we’re picking 10-15 tonnes per week until the end of January,’’ Andy says.

More growers such as the Kakourises are seeing the value of this crop too, with areas around Bundaberg in Queensland also supplying the Australian market.

‘‘When we first released the Kumato to the market in 2005, it was natural curiosity about its colour that saw it being taken home and put on dinner tables around Australia.

‘‘Now people love the Kumato for the flavour it brings to their cooking,’’ says Matthew McInerney of the Moraitis Group, Australia. AAP

KUMATO PROVENCALE

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

1kg Kumatoes

tsp castor sugar

salt and freshly ground pepper

3Tbsp olive oil

1garlic clove, crushed

1cups breadcrumbs, made from Italian-style bread

1large lemon, rind finely grated

3Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Method:

Preheat fan-forced oven to 200 degrees or normal oven to 220 degrees. Lightly grease a baking dish. Cut the Kumatoes in half and place cut side up in the dish. Sprinkle over the sugar and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with one tablespoon of the oil and roast for eight minutes or until the Kumatoes are just tender but holding their shape. 

Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat until hot. Add the remaining oil then the garlic and breadcrumbs and cook, shaking the pan for four to five minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon rind and parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Scatter the breadcrumbs over the Kumatoes.

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