Deconstructed Tomato: Tomato gelée with tomato coulis


Have you ever made tomato water? It's the clear liquid strained gently from a ripe tomato, and one of the best treats of summer. When made from juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes, it has a sweet yet green-tomatoey taste that is so intense that a little goes a very long way.

Making tomato water is very simple. All it requires is a blender or food processor, a fine mesh sieve, paper towels, and patience. What you do with the resulting water is up to your imagination. Here I have added a little gelatin to make it into a tomato gelée (or, to be non-fancy, jelly). Served on top is a tomato coulis made from the pulp that is left over after the water is strained. The only heat-adding cooking involved is in melting the gelatin. It fits in well with my minimal-cooking mood this summer.

This would make a very interesting first course for a summer meal, or an amuse-bouche if served in tiny portions. It would be a great in-between courses palate cleanser too, if you are having an elaborate meal.

The amounts given will yield about 4 small first course portions.


Tomato water

  • 4 large, ripe and juicy tomatoes, heirloom variety preferred (my two favorite varieties available widely here to use for this are Berner Rosen (or Rose de Berne, The Rose of Berne) and Coeur de Boeuf. I'd also use Brandywines if I had them.)
  • Large pinch of sea salt

Equipment needed: a fine mesh colander or sieve, non-dyed paper towels, a large bowl over which the sieve can sit, food processor or blender

De-stem and roughly cut up the tomatoes; place in the food processor or blender, seeds and all. Add the salt, and liquify.

Line the sieve or colander with about 3 thicknesses of paper towel; place over the bowl. Carefully pour the liquified tomato into the sieve. Leave in refrigerator for several hours or over night, until the water has drained into the bowl. Don't try to squeeze any liquid through, or the water will become cloudy.

Tomato gelée

  • About 300ml / 1 1/4 cups of tomato water
  • 3 leafs of leaf gelatin
  • Water

Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water until soft. Drain.

Put about 1/3rd of the tomato water in a small pan with the softened gelatin. Stir over low heat until completely dissolved. Add the rest of the tomato water.

Chill in the fridge until set. (If you have more or less tomato water than the amount here, adjust the amount of gelatin - you should have a rather soft set, not something you could bounce off a hard surface.)

Tomato coulis

Pass the leftover pulp from making the tomato water through a fine sieve to get rid of all the seeds and skin bits. That's it! You can optionally add a bit of cream, but I find that the tomato alone has a creamy, intense quality.

This can all be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge, well covered.

To assemble the Deconstructed Tomato (do this just before serving to preserve the clarity of the tomato jelly), break up the set tomato jelly with a fork into small bits. Make a small mound, and carefully put a teaspoonful of the coulis on top. Garnish with a small basil leaf.

Other uses for tomato water and coulis

  • Serve the tomato water with a bit of vodka, very well chilled, in shot glasses as an interesting shooter.
  • Add finely chopped cucumber, celery, tomato, etc. to the jelly to make a salad.
  • Serve the coulis or jelly or both with boiled shrimp.
  • Leftover coulis can be made into a (warm) tomato sauce - just use instead of or in addition to canned crushed tomatoes.
Filed under:  lighter vegetables summer salad low-carb

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This looks fantastic! I love seeing how different chefs interpret and deconstruct simple foods like tomatoes. So interesting! Thanks for sharing. It's so strange to think that that gelee is tomato flavored because it is so clear! I'm so amazed :)

This doesn't entirely relate, but I wrote a post on Chew on That about a different way for tomatoes to be deconstructed...scroll down to the part about Vegetable Justice.

I wound up doing a tomato roundup today on the blog and I included your great post in it! Check it out:

thanks Hillary!

This is the first time I am hearing about the Tomato water. I have tried different dishes with the tomato. I think I will like this one too. i should try this at home. Thank you for sharing the recipe with these wonderful pictures.