Pistachio oil*, green-gold and limpid, has become something of a secret weapon in my kitchen lately. A tablespoon in a vinaigrette with delicate Nice olive oil and organic red wine vinegar imparts a mysterious nutty flavour; a few drops on warmed fresh goat's cheese or sliced avocado makes a thrown-together lunch seem sophisticated. Yesterday it brought an extra touch of originality to strawberry and tomato gaspacho, which I came across last week at Le Mirazur's new tapas-style bar and couldn't wait to recreate.
Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco, who runs this stunning restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean with his adorable wife Daniela, told me that the secret is to find the right balance between the tomato and strawberry. He suggests starting with equal weights of each, then adjusting the proportion so that neither one dominates.
Despite an unusually rainy spring that has delayed our vine-ripened tomatoes and diluted the taste of long-awaited berries, I was able to find real field tomatoes - this variety is called the coeur de boeuf, or ox heart - and intense-tasting Mara des Bois strawberries from a local producer. I could have used lemon juice or sherry vinegar to lift their flavors, but instead uncorked one of my tiny bottles of potent fruit vinegar from the brilliant company Stratta in Sussex, England, choosing redcurrant this time.
Rather than blending basil or mint into the gaspacho I simply topped it with tiny basil leaves, whose aroma was enough to add a fresh, herbal note (next time I might also blend some spring onion into the mixture). Serve it very chilled in small glasses, with or without a spoon.
Strawberry-tomato gaspacho with pistachio oil
Serves 4 as an appetizer
350 g vine-ripened tomato (13 oz)
330 g summer strawberries (13 oz)
1/2 tsp sea salt (or more, to taste)
1 tbsp redcurrant vinegar or other fruit vinegar
A few drops hot sauce
A few small basil or mint leaves
Peel the tomatoes using a serrated peeler or by dipping them in boiling water for a few seconds. Dice roughly.
Gently wash the strawberries, then remove their stems.
Place the tomatoes and strawberries in a food mill (mouli-légumes) or blender and purée. If you use the blender, strain the mixture through a sieve. Taste and add a little more tomato or strawberry if necessary to balance the flavor.
Season with vinegar, salt and hot sauce. To serve, drizzle with a little pistachio oil and top with small basil or mint leaves.
5 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
I imagine oxheart is similar to what we call beefsteak. Tomatoes that soak up the sun's heat all day are best. Such a pretty and elegant first course.
Lucy, I'm surprised you can't find pistachio oil in Australia. Yet another reason to come to France!
Susan, I think so, but I love the sound of the words "ox heart." This is perfect dinner party food, I think - ridiculously easy, but impressive.