During the Christmas holidays, James and I threw a dinner party to honour his parents who were visiting from England. We invited my aunt and uncle who know them well and a couple of our close friends. It was such a wonderful evening, full of food, wine, candlelight and laughter. It took me a week to plan the menu and it took James and me 2 days to prepare everything - something we both really enjoy doing. We put on our tunes, and get to the business at hand. For some recipes he's the head chef and I'm his sous-chef, and for other recipes, it's the inverse. A perfect team.
I wish I would have photographed more of the meal but I was too busy enjoying my own party, which is something I have a hard time doing when I'm flitting about trying to get everything done. This time, everything was done and nothing had to be prepared while the guests were here - the food only had to be reheated, plated and served.
Although the recipe looks long and daunting, it really isn't. Each component can be made a few days prior and assembled right before serving. I didn't use all the basil oil so I used the rest to make a vinaigrette which was delicious. I also had some shallot dressing left which I've basically been eating with everything - except dessert.
Tomato Tartare with Shallot Dressing, Basil Oil and Gruyère Chips
Starter / Appetizer
A vegetarian tartare that is chic, easy to make and delicious.
- TOMATO TARTARE
- 3 lbs roma (Italian plum) tomatoes (about 12)
- 3 tbsp finely minced shallots
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp drained capers, chopped
- 1 tbsp minced chives
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Tabasco sauce to taste
- SHALLOT DRESSING
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup finely minced shallots
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- 4 drops Tabasco sauce
- 1/4 cup minced chives
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chervil (optional)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- BASIL OIL
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 cup firmly packed basil leaves (about 10 oz)
- GRUYERE CHIPS
- 6 very thin slices gruyère
- For TARTARE: Preheat oven to 250˚F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
- Cut out and discard the cores then cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place them cut side up on the baking sheets. Place in oven and slow-roast for about 3 hours to partially dry the tomatoes.
- Meanwhile, bring a small pan of water to a boil. Add the shallots and blanch quickly, just until tender. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve and run cold water over them to cool them down. Drain on a paper towel.
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven and when cool enough to handle, pull away and discard the skins (this is more easily done when tomatoes are still warm). Scoop out the seedy centres, leaving tomato "shells" and discard seeds and membranes.
- Chop the tomato flesh into small dice. Place the chopped tomatoes in the centre of a piece of cheesecloth, hold over a bowl and wring out to remove excess liquid. Place tomatoes in a medium bowl.
- Add the shallots to the tomatoes. Add the garlic and the remaining ingredients, mix well and refrigerate until cold, at least an hour or up to a day. Check seasoning before serving.
- For SHALLOT DRESSING: Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse to blend, scraping down the sides of the blender as necessary. Leave a bit of texture to the mixture.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.
- For BASIL OIL: Combine oil and basil in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until the oil is bubbling and the leaves are beginning to firm. Reduce the heat to medium-low and heat for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
- Carefully pour the oil and basil leaves into a blender and puree until smooth. Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth, place over a small bowl or airtight container and strain the oil through the cheesecloth.
- The oil can be kept, tightly covered, for up to a week.
- For GRUYERE CHIPS: preheat oven to 250˚F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat.
- Arrange the cheese slices on the Silpat leaving about an inch between them.
- Bake for about 13-15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and browned to a golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let the chips firm up on the cookie sheet.
- When they are easy to remove, lift them with a spatula and place on paper towels or parchment paper to cool completely.
- These can be stored in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
- PLATING: place a 2" or 3" ring mold off to the side of a serving plate and fill with 1/6 of the tartare. Do not press down - a looser packing will more closely resemble beef tartare.
- Gently lift up the mold and repeat with other plates.
- Spoon the shallot dressing on the plate around the tartare.
- Drizzle with basil oil, if desired.
- Sprinkle with chives and top each portion with a gruyère chip.