Yield: 6 appetizer servings
1 1/2 pounds medium tomatoes (about 4)
1 medium clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
6 pitted black olives, such as oil-cured or kalamata-type brine-cured, or a mixture, for garnish
2 to 3 sprigs basil, plus 6 to 12 small leaves for optional garnish
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
About 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, divided
Set freezer to its coldest setting. Have ready a 13-by-9-inch freezerproof glass or aluminum baking dish.
Loosen the skin of the tomatoes by cutting a small cross in the skin and dipping them into boiling water, one at a time, for 15 to 30 seconds. Peel, discard the cores and cut the tomatoes into chunks. Place in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add garlic, pressing it through a garlic press and spreading it around the dish. Sprinkle with salt and vinegar; let mixture macerate at room temperature for 1 hour (up to several hours if placed in the refrigerator). Toss the mixture occasionally.
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Purée the mixture by pulsing in a blender or food processor. Remove the seeds by straining through a sieve (larger than fine-mesh), pressing the mixture through with a spoon. Discard the solids.
Pour the purée into the baking dish. Freeze for 2 to 4 hours, using a fork to rake through it every 30 to 45 minutes to distribute the crystals evenly (the mixture is ready to serve when it is fully frozen into large, light crystals; do not allow it to freeze solid). If the mixture overfreezes, remove it from freezer for a few minutes until it thaws enough to stir. Resume freezing and stirring.
One hour before serving, freeze or refrigerate 6 short glasses or shot glasses. Mince olives; set aside.
Just before serving, cut basil into 2 tablespoons of chiffonade by stacking the leaves and cutting them into very thin slices. Coat them with olive oil. Add to the tomato granita and stir to distribute evenly.
To assemble, place a spoonful of granita crystals in the bottom of each glass. Drop a ball of mascarpone (about 2 teaspoons) into each glass, then add another layer of granita. Sprinkle minced olives on top. Garnish with a whole basil leaf. Serve immediately, providing demitasse spoons or teaspoons.
Per serving: 129 calories; 11g fat; 2g saturated fat; 6mg cholesterol; 2g protein; 6g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 462mg sodium.