"This is the best way to make use of excess tomatoes and the dry 40C summer days in Victoria," says Turner. "During the summer months, the wild fennel pollen is in abundance along the train tracks. We use it on everything from poached eggs to grilled pork." You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead if you're going to sun-dry the tomatoes. A dehydrator (preheated to 65C; cook for 5 hours) or an oven (preheated to 70C or lowest setting; cook for 4-5 hours) will give you the same results. The Turners like to cook the calamari in a skillet over a campfire that's burning at high heat, but to cook them at home you'll a need barbecue or char-grill pan.
- 500 gm ripe cherry tomatoes (2 punnets), halved
- 4 green tomatoes, thickly sliced (see note)
- 2 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 220 ml olive oil
- 1½ tbsp lemon thyme
- Zested rind of ½ a lemon, and 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 small southern calamari (about 900gm)
- 30 gm young samphire (see note) (¼ cup)
- 2 tbsp fresh fennel pollen (see note)
- 1Toss tomatoes in a bowl with garlic, 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp thyme, and a good pinch of salt. Place on a metal tray and stand directly in the sun to dehydrate by 50% (about 7-8 hours; if the tomatoes still haven’t dried enough, bring inside overnight and return them to direct sunlight to continue dehydrating the following day). Transfer to a container, add lemon rind, remaining thyme and 180ml olive oil and refrigerate until required.
- 2Clean calamari, leaving wings attached, and rub with a cloth to remove skin. Thickly slice widthways, place in a bowl, add lemon juice and remaining oil, season to taste with salt, toss to combine and set aside.
- 3Heat a charcoal barbecue (or char-grill pan) to high heat, add calamari in batches and cook, turning occasionally, until charred and cooked through (1-2 minutes). Set aside to rest (1-2 minutes). Transfer to a plate, add drained sun-dried tomatoes, scatter with samphire and fennel pollen and serve.
Note If green tomatoes are unavailable, substitute 300gm mixed heirloom tomatoes, halve small tomatoes; thickly slice larger ones. Samphire is a succulent that grows near the coast; it's available from select greengrocers. If fresh fennel pollen is unavailable, substitute dried fennel pollen; it's available from Herbie's Spices.
Drink Suggestion: 2011 Best’s “Concongella Blanc” Nursery Block Blend. Drink suggestion by Astrid Turner