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August and the first weeks of September are the best time for incredibly flavorful local tomatoes. During the season you can find a wide selection of sizes, colors and shapes at the local market, which irresistibly invite you to explore the wide variety. Tomatoes are very versatile: you can broil, roast, grill, stew, fry, dry or simply use them raw e.g. in a salad. One of the most famous and popular salads with tomatoes is probably the Italian Caprese consisting of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella (from buffalo milk), basil, some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. In my version here I integrated the idea of a tomato terrine inspired by a recipe of Tanja Grandits. In her cookbook she called it tomato cassata and used some vanilla too, which I skipped. Instead of red tomato juice I pureed and sieved yellow tomatoes, which added a nice and vibrant color to the final dish.
One might also call the tomato terrine on the plate a “slice of umami”. Tomatoes naturally contain a high amount of glutamic acid which is responsible for the savory umami taste. This terrine consists of tomatoes only, boosted by half-drying, some salt and sugar. While the gelled yellow part melts nicely in your mouth, the half dried red tomatoes add a kind of meaty texture. The mozzarella complements it with its chewy, and the mozzarella chip with its crispy nature. The appetizer is finished by some basil-vinaigrette, where the shallots add some spice, the basil some sweetness and the vinegar some freshness. Altogether the different textures and tastes sum up to an extraordinary version of the classic Caprese salad.
Twisted Caprése: Mozzarella with Basil-Vinaigrette and Tomato Terrine
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Yield: 4 portions
6 red tomatoes
4 yellow tomatoes
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp sugar
4 drops tabasco
10 leaves gelatine
6 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 big and 1 small clove garlic
1/2 small shallot
12-14 leaves fresh basil
1 tbsp fig vinegar
2 mozzarella di buffala
freshly ground black pepper
mild olive oil
For the terrine
Blanch the red tomatoes shortly in hot water and peel them. Quarter and discard the pulp. Slice 1 big clove garlic very thinly. Sprinkle an ovenproof dish with mild olive oil, add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, garlic slices, some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Distribute evenly, then add tomatoes with their cut side down, sprinkle with some olive oil and bake in 100°C / 210F oven for 2-3 hours until half dried.
Remove from the oven and let chill to room temperature. Carefully lift the tomatoes from their herb bed thereby removing any herbs or garlic slices. Drain the flavorful olive oil from the dish through a colander and press out as much oil from the herbs as possible. Reserve the oil for the vinaigrette or for another use (keeps really well in the freezer).
Wash and chop the yellow tomatoes. Add to a blender and blend until you get a smooth puree. Strain through a fine sieve to remove skin parts. Measure 300ml juice and gently heat in a pan with 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp sugar.
Soak the gelatine in cold water, press out the water and add the gelatine to the warm yellow tomato juice. Line a 26x8 cm / 10x3 inch terrine form with clingfilm and lay out a layer with half dried red tomatoes. Cover with yellow tomato juice and add another layer of red tomatoes. Cover with the rest of the yellow tomato juice. Carefully put the terrine in the fridge and allow to get solid. This usually takes 3-4 hours.
For the basil-vinaigrette
Wash and shake dry the basil leaves. Reserve some nice small leaves for decoration. Peel and chop finely the shallot, small garlic clove and basil leaves. Put in a small jar, add 3 tbsp mild olive oil (reserved from the tomatoes), 1 tbsp fig vinegar, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the jar with its lid and shake well. Let stand for at least half an hour. Shake well again before serving.
For the mozzarella chip
Drain the water from the mozzarella. Cut from both mozzarellas a 1 cm thick slice and slice the rest to 6-6 slices each. Drain the mozzarella on paper towels. Heat a grilling pan until moderately hot and add the thick slices of mozzarella. Wait until the mozzarella starts to melt, then using a fork rapidly lift up the mozzarella slices from the pan. A thin mozzarella layer should be still sticking to the grilling pan. Leave this layer until it can be lifted up easily. Carefully remove the chips from the pan and reserve at a dry place. Repeat the procedure with the rest of the 2 thick slices.
Place 1 slice of terrine on a plate and let it warm to room temperature for 10 minutes. Add the mozzarella slices and sprinkle with basil-vinaigrette. Decorate with reserved basil leaves and a mozzarella chip.