Photo by Judith Hausman
Another heat wave, after a very brief breather, brought to mind a cool dish I haven’t had in years: aspic. The jellied beef or chicken consommé my mom tried out on me as a child was not an experience I wanted to repeat, but a wiggly-style tomato soup seemed ingenious for a summer dinner appetizer, especially now that it’s time for basil and real tomatoes.
I hunted in my French Provencal cookbooks and also in my classics and found just what I had in mind in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Jellied everything seems to have been the rage then, and I found tomato aspic amplified with fish, minced vegetables, hard-cooked eggs and more. I stuck to basil this time, but the herbs could certainly vary.
The aspic was incredibly easy to make and firmed up quickly in the fridge. Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor if you want smoother aspic, and add red onion or scallions if you like as well (or any small diced cooked vegetables).
To start dinner tonight, I’ll serve small bowlfuls along with some cool, white wine. I could also offer a bowl of Greek yogurt and cucumbers alongside. Sometime soon, I’ll double the recipe and serve the aspic with a garden salad or some poached salmon for lunch.
Yield: 4 small portions
- 2 cups tomato juice or V8 juice OR 1 cup juice and 1 cup fresh or canned diced tomatoes, undrained
- juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
- dash of hot sauce or more, to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh herbs (basil, dill, cilantro, parsley), chopped
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of 1 cup tomato/V8 juice in a medium saucepan. Gently heat the juice until the gelatin dissolves.
Add the remaining juice or tomatoes, lemon juice and hot sauce.
Remove from heat, and add herbs.
You might also enjoy these Locavore Recipes: