I did a search on the web before I created this sauce, just to make sure it didn’t already exist. And low and behold, I did find one, but only one, adventurous food blogger who has traversed this wild terrain. The lovely Nicole of Baking Bites blog (@bakingbites) posted a Roasted Strawberry and Tomato Salsa, which I can’t wait to try.
The idea of pairing strawberries with tomatoes originally came to me while perusing one of my favorite culinary sites, FoodPairing, which features dozens of potentially harmonious and sometimes very odd sounding ingredient pairings. (Another great site for this type of exploration is Khymos. Or check out the most comprehensive book ever written on the topic: The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It lists thousands of ingredient pairings favored by some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs.)
Remarkably, strawberries do have something in common with tomatoes. As the theory goes, if two different foods share one or more volatile molecules, they are highly likely to complement each other when eaten together. Very few noted chefs, however, have expounded on the potential harmony that exists between strawberries and tomatoes. An exception is Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York. In The Flavor Bible, he mentions a gazpacho that he created using 80 percent strawberries and 20 percent tomatoes. Garnished with Hawaiian blue prawns, diced strawberries, and cured pork, the dish sounds fabulous.
Spurred on by admiration for Daniel’s inspired gazpacho and watching way too many episodes of Food Network’s Chopped, with all those bizarre flavor combinations, I put aside the research part of this exploration and started putting together my mise-en-place in the OtherWorldly Kitchen. In my fantasy version of Chopped, I am competing against Bobby Flay and Mark LaPolla (@LifeByChocolate). We’re down to the wire. Two other world-class chefs, Tom Douglas and Ethan Stowell, have already been chopped. Sorry guys, good effort!
It’s the dessert course. We open the dreaded black basket. Gasp! We stare with astonishment at the contents: Parmesan, tomatoes, strawberries, and basil.
Here’s my dessert sauce. You will have to wait until the next post to see what I do with the Parmesan and basil. But trust me, it’s sensational. Bobby and Mark don’t stand a chance.
And yes, of course I intend to do a riff on that gazpacho. As soon as I can get my hands on local, ripe tomatoes.
Fresh Strawberry-Tomato Dessert Sauce
This refreshing and delicious desert sauce will surprise you. The tomatoes add a subtle savory (umami) element that is intriguing. See if your guests can detect the mystery ingredient.
1 pound (about 3 cups) fresh strawberries, stemmed (use frozen, thawed strawberries in a pinch)
¾ pound peeled, diced, ripe tomatoes with juice (use premium-quality canned tomatoes in a pinch)
½ cup sugar
½ cup red currant or strawberry jelly
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, liquefy the strawberries, tomatoes, and sugar. Reserve.
- Put the jelly into a small saucepan over medium heat and warm just to melt, whisking until smooth. (Or microwave to melt.)
- Add the jelly and lime juice to the strawberry-tomato sauce in the processor, and pulse to incorporate.
- Strain the sauce through a triple mesh chinoise into a storage container. Adjust flavor balance with a little more lime juice if necessary.
- Chill thoroughly and serve cold.
Makes 2 cups.