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 1.2ha 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 to which we're so accustomed.
Plus, they are not that hard to grow - taking 10 weeks from planting to picking - and summer and spring is when they harvest the Kumato.
"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.
"We can't keep up with demand."
There are two varieties of the Kumato - a large size and the mini/snacking variety, (which is leading the field in popularity).
Explaining its history, McInerney says the Kumato might not have made it to Australian plates if not for a curious Spanish farmer Luis Ortega, who noticed his tomatoes that received less water, were darker in colour but were sweeter and more flavourful. This led to a mission to develop the Kumato through traditional breeding techniques of crossing wild and domestic tomatoes, without the use of genetic modification.
Kumatoes are delicious raw, and certainly jazz up a salad and salsas. Their distinct colours also let them make a statement on pizzas and bruschettas.
And don't forget the perfect summer brunch drink - a Bloody Mary made with Kumatoes is bloody fantastic.
RECIPE: KUMATO PROVENCALE
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
1/4 teaspoon caster sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs, made from Italian-style bread
1 large lemon, rind finely grated
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Preheat fan-forced oven to 200C or normal oven to 220C. 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 1 tablespoon of the oil and roast for 8 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 4-5 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 toasted breadcrumbs over the Kumatoes and serve.
RECIPE: KUMATO CHILLI JAM
Makes 4 cups
3 large red banana chillies, seeds and membrane removed, roughly chopped
5 birds eye chillies, seeds in, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500g Kumatoes, halved, seeds removed
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup port wine
1 cup water
Combine the chillies, onion and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely chopped. Transfer to a medium-size, heavy-based saucepan.
Add the Kumatoes, salt, sugar, vinegar, port and water. Stir over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil gently for 40-45 minutes until thick and jam-like.
Spoon into sterilised jars, seal and allow to cool.
- The Kumato chilli jam will keep 4 months in the fridge.
- Can be used on sandwiches, pizzas, in a ploughman's lunch or serve in a bowl on a cheese board or antipasto plate.