Tomato Gelée

What to do? It’s summer. It’s hot. My Dad loves tomatoes. How can I serve them cold–and not as a sauce or a soup? [Puréed Gazpacho recipe coming soon!] Gelatin must be the answer. But all the recipes either lack real tomato oomph, like the various recipes for Tomato Aspic that are based on tomato juice, tomato sauce, or V-8 Juice. [Click HERE for a classic version.] Other versions of Tomato Gelée sound lovely–types of deconstructed tomatos (as this site with a nice recipe and image puts it) with the tomatoes puréed and drained to create a light-greenish tomato water. The tomato water is turned into a jelly and served with a coulis of the tomato pulp on top. But I wanted a gelée that tasted more like a nice, ripe tomato served with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and some julienned basil. So this is what I came up with. Ingredients

  • One large, ripe Beefsteak Tomato (about 1 pound)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt (and more later to your taste)
  • About 8 turns of the pepper mill
  • 4-5 good-sized leaves of fresh Basil (coarsely mince just before you add them to the food processor)
  • 1 Envelope of Knox Gelatin

Method Skin the tomato by plunking it into a pot of boiling water (some people like to cut a little cross into the bottom of each tomato first). Keep an eye on it! Faster than you think, the skin will start splitting. As soon as it does, remove it from the water. If you are being fancy, you can plunge it into a bath of ice water. Most of the time I just let it cool on the counter.

One it is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off. Then cut the tomato in half, scoop out the seeds, dice the flesh, and put it in a bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let this mixture sit at room temperature (stirring it from time to time) for at least a half hour. The salt should pull a good deal of liquid from the diced tomato.

Then pour the diced tomato mixture into a fine sieve that is placed over a small saucepan. Drain the liquid into the suacepan, and put the diced tomato in the bowl of your food processor along with the minced basil leaves. Run the machine until the mixture is puréed. Transfer the purée to a mixing bowl.

In the meantime, heat the drained liquid in the saucepan until it just boils. Sprinkle the gelatin over the hot liquid and whisk until it is dissolved. Blend the gelatin mixture into the tomato purée. Taste and correct the amount of salt to your taste.

Pour into whatever little mold that you like–I used 4 oz. containers with lids and ended up filling three. Or sometimes I use a loaf-shaped mold. Refrigerate for several hours–until the gelée is completely gelled.

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