When you go overboard from tomato picking and have 40 lbs. to play with, you have the freedom to tinker w/ wild concoctions like tomato sorbet. I mean, how could my summer of homemade frozen confections not conclude w/ such a dazzling finale as captured below? I got cutesy w/ my presentation and hollowed out a tomato for serving. I love how the sorbet's color blends in w/ the actual tomato...if you look closely, you'll notice tiny flakes of Maldon sea salt at the crest.
While pure tomato essence may not be for everyone (eg, my husband), I would have to say that this was the triumph of the summer for me. It was what making homemade sorbet is all about...extracting the heart and soul of a fruit and transforming it into something familiar yet surprising and other-worldly. Sure, strawberry, peach, lemon were all wonderful, but tomato was daring and whimsical and isn't something you'll find on most menus.
Don't get me wrong though, this was not just an intellectual culinary achievement, it was truly, to my taste, the most tantalizing flavor I've made all summer. Of course, the variety of tomato makes all the difference. I've been in love w/ the dry-farmed Early Girls we've been getting in NorCal this summer. They are perfectly balanced in sweetness, acidity, and texture and when I eat them I think "fruit" more than "vegetable." I don't need cheese, basil, or oil to enjoy them...just sea salt. I would even say that they have a subtle strawberry undertone...
I got inspiration from my previous strawberry balsamic creation as well as luscious Andalusian gazpacho, and came up w/ the below recipe. The tomato flavor is very intense yet nicely balanced by sugar and acid. If you want it more vegetal, add less sugar. If you want it less intense, add some water. A splash of vodka would also be interesting. I think it would make a great amuse or starter to get the saliva flowing. I was so tempted to infuse basil in some way but held back this time. A drizzle of basil oil would be a fun experiment and make for a stunning presentation. Even if you don't make this, I hope you enjoy this last glimpse of summer.
End of Summer Tomato Sorbet
Makes one pint
About 2 pounds of Early Girl tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
3-5 TB sugar, granulated and superfine (I used 4 TB total)
About 2 tsp. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. fruity olive oil
Macerate chopped tomatoes w/ 3 TB granulated sugar, 1 tsp. sherry vinegar, and olive oil for at least 30 min. and up to overnight. Puree in blender til smooth and strain. You should have about 2 cups of puree. Taste and add pinch salt to brighten flavor. Adjust for sugar (use superfine for easy dissolving) and vinegar, keeping in mind that flavors will dull a bit when frozen. Chill til very cold. Freeze in ice cream machine til it comes together and achieves desired flavor concentration (I churned for about 7 min). Freeze to harden if desired. If desired, serve in hollowed tomato w/ a sprinkle of sea salt.