Summertime veg: rolling in thick and fast

August 31st, 2012

When the onions, courgettes and tomatoes all roll in at the same time as new garlic, eggplant and sharp little peppers…. we’re spoiled for choice.  The Mediterranean and new world beauties fit into  such a long culinary tradition, but does the world need another recipe for Gazpacho, Ratatouille or Piperade?  (Of course we do!)  But just for a change of pace to cool us off and to brighten palates, this Mousse aux Tomates serves as an apéro verrine -  a supper starter.  August and September’s flavorful tomatoes are the key:  slice up a tomato and taste it before taking the time (one day in advance, or an early morning start on the day it will be served) to whip up this delicate mousse.

The recipe caught my eye earlier this summer in the July- August 2012 issue of the French  SAVEURS magazine. It has any number of herbal variations, and  could also be made with golden (or green zebra?!) tomatoes and layered in the glasses.  A simple Cigare au Parmesan was suggested to add a crunchy textural contrast – or one could use apératif-size sesame or emmenthal bread sticks.  Allow about 3 hours to chill before serving 4 .

                            Mousse de tomate/Tomato Mousse

1 leaf of gelatin, soaked in cold water while prepping the tomatoes:

3 medium-large ripe and fragrant tomatoes, plunged into boiling water for 20 seconds, then refresh in cold water and remove the skin & stems. Cut them in 3, remove seeds and crush the tomatoes roughly.

2 plump shallots, peeled, trimmed and finely chopped…”melt” them in a saucepan  over medium heat in 2 T. olive oil for 3 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, a pinch each of sugar & salt, a twist of pepper. Let this all cook over  moderate heat for 12 to 15 minutes.

Take it off the heat and stir in the softened (squeeze the water out)  gelatine,  blending all with a wand mixer til it is a purée consistency (or more roughly if you want some chunks in your mousse). When this is cool…

Whip 15 cl/2/3 cup medium-thick cream into peaks, then gently fold in the well-cooled tomato pulp mixture.  Pour it into 4 simple glasses and place in the fridge to chill for about 3 hours.

To serve, decorate with 6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, halved, and pop a little, crisp sesame or cheese bread stick into each glass.  If you have some in the garden, snipped fresh basil is a fragrant touch, too.  Now all you need are teaspoons – to enjoy this tomato mousse on the porch, deck or patio before a Labor Day grilled supper! And take a deep breath, savoring these late  summer moments…

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