4 Tomato and Basil Sorbet

Basil and Bride in Frosty Marriage


This is the recipe for show-offs. When you serve tiny little dollops of this orangey greeny ice as a first course on huge plates garnished with fresh leaves of lettuce-leaved basil, it says to the whole world not only that you own an up-to-date food processor, but that you also have a Gelato-chef or other single-unit ice-cream maker. Basil is of course the darling of nouvelle cuisine, and his alliance with Tomato makes everybody happy.

Quantities are utterly irrelevant to this recipe; tomatoes differ so much in sweetness, flavour and the amount of liquid they contain that measures are useless.

Skin and seed ripe tomatoes, by nicking the skin, dipping them in hot water, cutting them in half lengthwise, and squeezing out the seeds. Liquidise the flesh in the processor, taste for salt, pepper and sugar (it should be slightly sweet), then add torn fresh basil leaves to taste, and, if you like, finely minced garlic. Whizz again, briefly.

At this point you can either add 250 ml (8 fl oz, 1 cup US) whisked double cream for each 1.2 kilos (2½ lb) of tomatoes (weighed before processing) or you can add two stiffly whisked egg whites per litre (about one per pint) of the mixture. Churn and freeze for 20 minutes in the automatic sorbetière, or freeze for 3-4 hours in small moulds. Serve half-thawed.