Food & Wine (July 2015)
Our Southern grannies would say this is a tomato salad that got above its raisin'. (In other words, it's putting on airs.)
"Tomato water granita"? Ice on a salad?!
Who needs all that fuss?
This is definitely the most innovative salad we've had in a really long time. Actually, it's one of the most innovative dishes of any kind we've had in a while. And the tastiest.
Here's the deal: You make a tomato water by straining chopped tomatoes. Then you freeze it and scrape it into a granita the consistency of shaved ice. Then that tops a very simple tomato salad. There are no crazy ingredients here; it's just tomatoes and seasonings, plus a little honey and red wine vinegar for the granita.
The only catch is that it takes hours to strain the tomato water, and then freeze the granita, so you have to plan ahead on this one. The magazine suggests you purée the tomatoes and then strain them in a cheesecloth-lined strainer overnight in a refrigerator.
We were so eager to taste this salad. We sliced the tomatoes, tossed them with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and then sprinkled the salad with the granita. The recipe calls for garnishing with chervil sprigs, but we have some parsley growing in the garden, so we used that instead.
This dish is pure summer magic.
The granita melts in your mouth as you eat it, and has a beautifully concentrated tomato flavor. It's a tomato lover's dream: crazy flavorful, but also delicate, warm and cool at the same time. This is a very cheffy approach to summer produce -- and it would be a stunningly impressive salad to serve guests -- but it's really quite simple if you don't mind planning ahead.
This salad is unlike anything we've ever made in our kitchen, and we love that.
It's not quite tomato season here. Sure, there are tomatoes available, but they haven't gotten good yet. We'll be back at this dish as soon as the tomatoes start piling up.
After all, we can all use a little magic this summer.
Active time: 45 mins | Total time: 4 hours 45 mins plus overnight draining
NOTES FROM ZACH AND CLAY:
- We used "nice" tomatoes from the farmers market for the salad but cheap tomatoes from the supermarket for the granita. Food & Wine smartly suggests buying "seconds" (slightly bruised or overripe tomatoes) for the tomato water.
- Our strainer is fairly small, so we turned the straining into a two-step process: We first ran the pureed tomatoes through the strainer without any cheesecloth; we had to do it in batches but it went relatively fast. Then we took that thinned-out tomato juice and ran it through the strainer with a cheesecloth. That second straining took much longer, but we could fit all of the tomato juice in our strainer at once.
- Once the tomato water was fully strained, you'll have some solids left over. Don't waste them! We added them to a simple sauté of summer corn, which was delicious.
5 large tomatoes, chopped (2 1/4 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 1/2 pounds multicolored heirloom tomatoes, cut into different sizes
2 cups multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved (10 ounces)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Chervil sprigs, for garnish
- MAKE THE GRANITA In a blender or food processor, puree the chopped tomatoes until nearly smooth. Line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a medium bowl. Pour the tomato puree into the strainer and let drain in the refrigerator overnight. You should have about 1 cup of tomato water; reserve the solids for making soup or sauce. Whisk the honey and vinegar into the tomato water and season lightly with salt.
- Pour the tomato water into an 8-inch-square glass or stainless steel baking pan. Freeze for 1 hour. Scrape the frozen edges into the center with a fork. Freeze for about 3 hours longer, scraping hourly, until the granita is uniformly icy and flaky.
- MAKE THE SALAD In a large bowl, toss all of the tomatoes with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to shallow bowls and spoon the granita on top. Garnish with chervil sprigs, drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Make the granita with blemished tomatoes, a.k.a. "seconds"—often overripe, they have the most flavor.