Using the Harvest: Tomato Cubes Gelee

As some of you know from a previous post, I had quite a San Marzano tomato harvest this year. IMG_4774.JPG
With some, I made and froze marinara. To process the marinara, I cut in half and de-seeded the tomatoes. I kept all seeds, inner membranes and tomato water in a bowl then strained this into another bowl, pushing down to extract as much tomato water as possible.
I’ve used tomato water to make soup but wanted to do something fun with my prized, organic, home grown, rich, heirloom tomato water this time! So how about a riff on caprese salad?
I reduced the tomato water to make it richer still…

A little chicken stock was added along with a few tablespoons of minced sweet basil from my garden and kosher salt. (Taste at this point and adjust your salt.) This was warmed then a package of gelatin was stirred in until dissolved. (There was about 2.5 to 3 cups of tomato water.) I poured this into a lightly greased casserole dish and put it in the fridge to set. The liquid came about three quarters of an inch up the side of the dish.
While that set, I cut the ciligene mozzarella picked up at Whole Foods. This was easy as ciligene are already small rounds. I squared off all sides and kept the top dome shaped. I didn’t do it with this batch but next time, I will either buy marinated mozzarella or marinate it myself for extra flavor.
It just so happened I had my book club meeting that evening so I plated up as follows:
– Cut the tomato gelee, a.k.a. savory jello, into squares.
– Put several basil leaves lightly brushed with olive oil on a platter.
– Put a tomato cube on each leaf.
– Put a mozzarella square on top of the tomato cube.
– Laid a piece of thinly sliced and julienned Serrano ham on top (prosciutto will work).
– Drizzled with balsamic vinegar reduction and a little olive oil.
– Finished with sea salt and red pepper flakes.
They were fun! Not quiet the mouth feel of biting into a fresh home-grown heirloom tomato, but definitely good. Next time I’ll experiment perhaps adding small diced tomato pieces and finely minced garlic to the gelee. Or one could take this the spicy route and add a few shakes of a favorite hot sauce. Sprinkling toasted fennel seeds on top instead of the ham could be nice too. I’m always open to new ideas and experimenting so if you try this, let me know how yours turn out!

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