This refreshing appetizer is the winner of the Food section's 2007 Easy Tomato Recipe Contest. It's a play on two Italian favorites: the familiar caprese salad and coffee granita. Mascarpone stands in for the caprese's mozzarella cheese and the coffee granita's whipped cream, and olives grace the top instead of the coffee granita's dusting of cinnamon. For appetizer servings, demitasse spoons might be easier to use than regular teaspoons.
The granita is best served within a day or two.
Servings: 6 appetizer servings
- 1 1/2 pounds medium tomatoes (about 4)
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 6 pitted black olives, such as oil-cured or kalamata-type brine-cured, or a mixture, for garnish
- 2 to 3 sprigs basil, plus 6 to 12 small leaves for garnish (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
Set the freezer to its coldest setting. Have ready a 13-by-9-inch freezerproof glass or aluminum baking dish.
Loosen the skin of the tomatoes by cutting a small cross in the skin and dipping them into boiling water, one at a time, for 15 to 30 seconds. Peel, discard the cores and cut the tomatoes into chunks. Place them in a glass or ceramic bowl and add the garlic, pressing it through a garlic press and spreading it around the dish. Sprinkle the tomatoes and garlic with the salt and vinegar; allow the mixture to macerate at room temperature for 1 hour (or up to several hours if placed in the refrigerator). Toss the mixture occasionally.
Puree the macerated mixture by pulsing in a blender or food processor. Remove the seeds by straining through a sieve (larger than fine-mesh), pressing the mixture through with a spoon. Discard the solids. Pour the mixture into the glass or aluminum baking dish and freeze for 2 to 4 hours; use a fork to rake through it every 30 to 45 minutes to distribute the crystals evenly (the mixture is ready to serve when it is fully frozen into large, light crystals; do not allow it to freeze solid). If the mixture over-freezes, remove it from freezer for a few minutes until it thaws enough to stir. Resume freezing and stirring.
One hour before serving, freeze or refrigerate 6 short glasses or shot glasses. Mince the olives very finely and set aside until serving time.
Just before serving, cut the basil into 2 tablespoons of chiffonade by stacking the leaves and cutting them into very thin slices. Drizzle them with a few drops of olive oil, no more than 1/4 teaspoon, to coat. Add to the tomato granita and stir to distribute evenly.
To assemble, place a spoonful of crystals in the bottom of each glass. Drop a ball of mascarpone (slightly more than 1 teaspoon) into each glass, then add another layer of granita. Sprinkle the minced olives on top and garnish with a whole basil leaf, if desired. Serve immediately.
From Arlington resident Linda Reck.
Tested by Geneva Collins.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.