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Colouring Food Red

There is nothing subtle about red.

It reaches out, grabs your attention and makes you look.

Perhaps that’s why it is the colour of the ribbon which is the international symbol of support for people living with HIV, and why Angela from Spinach Tiger asked us to remember World Aids Day earlier this week by cooking red.

Sliced Tomatoes in a Bloody Mary Sauce

Cooking red on red

Angela has a lot of personal reasons for remembering. I almost feel the creeping red glow of shame that I am lucky enough not to have any such AIDS-related story to tell (there’s Irish Catholic guilt for ya). So I will just remember the stories of others and cook something that I hope is worthy of their remembrances.

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Sliced Tomatoes in a Bloody Mary Sauce

This is based on a recipe for Sliced Tomatoes in a Tomato Sauce taken from my well-thumbed and splattered copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian.

The original recipe is simplicity itself – tomatoes and tomato juice, flavoured simply with garlic, parsley and chili and very lightly cooked. Excellent with eggs or bread or rice (or all three, if you felt so inclined) and very brunch-worthy. The bloody mary dimension – that favoured cocktail of the hungover – is my own. I was already a fan of vodka in tomato sauce, so it progressed rather naturally from there. It takes all of about 5 minutes to cook (which is a real plus if you happen to be operating with a hangover – as you would if you’d had one too many of Greg’s equally red snapper shooters).

Last, but not least, it really goes without saying that, with little else to hide behind, the tomatoes and juice used should be of good quality and should have some inherent flavour of their own – in the case of the tomatoes we often get in Ireland, that is not necessarily a given.

You’ll need:
  • 175ml tomato juice
  • 20ml vodka
  • 0.25 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 10 drops Tabasco (or more if you like more heat)
  • 0.5 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • small pinch celery seeds
  • 1 tblsp very finely chopped flat leaf parsley
The Steps:
  • In a jug, mix together the tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and lemon juice.
  • Take very thin slices off the top and bottom of each tomato and discard, then slice them crossways into 3 slices each – the slices should be around 1cm thick or so. Season the slices on both sides with salt and black pepper.
  • Place a medium-sized frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the oil, crushed garlic and celery seeds.
  • When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the tomato slices in a single layer and fry lightly for about a minute on each side.
  • Now pour over the tomato juice mix and the chopped parsley. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble for about a minute. Remove from the heat and serve with a poached or fried egg and some crusty bread to mop things up.
The Variations:
  • Leave out the vodka if you like. In fact, you can also leave out the Worcestershire sauce / Tabasco / lemon juice / celery seeds and just stick with garlic and parsley as flavourings and you would have something fairly close to the original.
The Results:
  • Serves 2, possession of hangovers optional


  1. VeggieGirl

    BEAUTIFUL tomato dish!

  2. gastroanthropologist

    Oh, bloody mary flavors in a sauce…sounds amazingly delicious. Not sure if you know about this potato event in London in Jan, but thought you might be interested http://www.potatofair.org/

  3. The Diva on a Diet

    I agree, beautiful dish and a beautiful post. I’ll bet the flavor is incredible and its just visually stunning!

  4. jenn

    Lovely. I love the sauce. I’m saving this one, too.

  5. Angela@spinachtiger

    Outstanding. The idea is a great one, and you really captured the essence of red. Thank you so much for participating. It means a lot.

  6. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie

    I love the idea of bloody mary sauce!

  7. Sophie

    I so love the idea of the Bloody mary sauce!! What a great dish!!


  8. sarah

    What a great idea, perfect for a sunday brunch!

  9. Jamie

    A great dish for a great cause! I agree this would be wonderful for brunch over eggs.

  10. Daily Spud

    VeggieGirl: thank you :)

    gastroanthropologist: thanks for the link to the potato fair – I didn’t actually know about it, but it’s on my radar now!

    Diva: it’s not a dish that would hide out in the corner, that’s for sure :)

    jenn: enjoy!

    Angela: you’re welcome – I’m just glad that I was able to do something for the event

    Natasha: I must say that I do like the idea of it myself :)

    Sophie: definitely an idea worthy of a try

    sarah: yep, it says brunch all the way

    Jamie: you bring the eggs, I’ll bring the sauce :D

  11. OysterCulture

    Oh wow, this sounds incredible, and I’ll be revisiting this post next year when its tomato season again. The photo certainly grabs you but I suspect that combination of ingredients does the same.

    I have seen so many wonderful posts in honor of this great cause. Its great to see another one.

  12. Reeni

    This sounds incredibly delicious! I wish I had some fresh tomatoes. These look so vibrant and fresh.

  13. Chef E

    This goes with my latest poem I wrote…

    Summer Kiss

    Have you
    had a kiss
    Red; it
    ran down
    your chin
    You could chew
    on the embarrassment
    Went back for more
    Salty tears
    Down your cheek
    Velvety texture
    Making the moment
    A touch of perfection

    Love is…
    Vine ripe tomatoes…

    © E Stelling, 2009

    Passion for things edible, and RED, passion for life is a gift we all should feel, embrace, and not forget those who happen to have theirs cut off short… Beautiful tribute…

  14. Daily Spud

    OysterCulture: yep, it really is one that’s best when tomato season is in full swing

    Reeni: …and I would love to have had tomatoes straight from the garden for this – that will have to wait ’til next summer!

    Chef E: thanks so much for sharing that E, beautiful

  15. sippitysup

    Beautiful. I have been down and out with a cold, but I am happy to be catching up and see this. GREG

  16. Tangled Noodle

    I am most definitely inclined to having this with eggs, bread and rice at once! The incredible response from food bloggers such as yourself with your terrific tomatoes has given Angela’s World Aids Day event the recognition and attention it so deserves.

  17. Lori

    This is gorgeous! And it doesn’t hurt that I absolutely love Bloody Mary’s. Bummer I didn’t have it with those wonderful tomatoes in Brazil. I’ll just have to tuck away the recipe until my Dad’s garden starts producing this summer. It will be a perfect fate for them.

  18. Daily Spud

    sippitysup: thank you sir and hope you’re getting back to rights by now

    Tangled Noodle: Of course I expect you to have this with rice at the very least! I was so glad that I was able to make the time to do this post – the opportunity to participate in events like this doesn’t always present itself, happily it worked out this time ’round.

    Lori: an excellent fate for your Dad’s tomatoes indeed :)

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