Cherokee Purple Tomato Terrine with White Asparagus Soup
Chef John Besh of Restaurant August – New Orleans, LA
Adapted by

Yield: 6 Servings

This appetizer came as a result of a friend, Lou Rex, who sent me a care package of heirloom tomato seeds. After a number of failed attempts at large scale gardening, I knew that the seeds needed to be placed in the hands of a professional. Two months after giving the seeds to Jim Core, a good friend and a great farmer in Folsom, LA, he informed me that we now had just over two acres of 48 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. With such an abundance of tomatoes I started looking for alternative ways of using them. This terrine of Cherokee Purple tomatoes may be used with a small seafood salad (perhaps crab, shrimp or lobster) or enjoyed just by itself with a little olive puree called tapenade. Any meaty tomato may be substituted for the Cherokee Purple tomato.


    Tomato Terrine:
  • 15 pound Cherokee Purple tomatoes
  • ½ gallon olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 11 sheets gelatin

    Soup of White Asparagus:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped leek
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound white asparagus, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1½ quarts chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 dashes cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Nutmeg, to taste

    Warm White Asparagus and Blue Crab Salad:
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 12 stalks white asparagus, peeled
  • 1 gallon boiling water
  • 1 cup jumbo lump crab meat, picked of all shells
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 Tablespoons diced, seeded, peeled tomato fillets

For Tomato Terrine:
Preheat oven to 250º F. Peel, seed and filet the tomatoes. Save remaining tomato pieces for purée. Place the filets in a large roasting pan, spreading them out over the pan. Cover the tomatoes with olive oil then sprinkle salt, pepper flakes and sugar onto the tomatoes and oil. Place in an oven at for 1½ to 2 hours, until tomatoes are preserved and begin to wrinkle a bit. This method pulls the water out of the tomatoes.

While the tomatoes are cooking, take the remaining tomato pieces and puree them. Pass them through a fine sieve to get rid of all seeds. Bloom gelatin in cool water to preserve the sheets. Season the tomato purée with salt and heat slowly in a pan. Add the bloomed gelatin to the tomato purée and dissolve. Keep the purée at room temperature; do not let it cool and set.

Once the tomatoes have cooked until tender to the touch, remove them from the oil and lightly wipe the tomatoes of excess oil and place them on paper towels. When the excess oil is removed, begin building the terrine. First spray with vegetable spray then line the terrine with plastic wrap while keeping the edges as smooth as possible. Ladle 1 ounce of tomato purée on the bottom of the terrine and place the filets with the grain of the tomato running the length of the mold. Take care not to have any gaps between each filet layer. Between each layer add 1 ounce of purée. Continue with this method until terrine is filled to the top. Fold plastic wrap over the top and allow the terrine to set for 24 hours in the cooler.

Note: Reserve tomato oil for later use.

For Soup of White Asparagus:
In a 4-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion, leek and garlic. Cook for several minutes before adding the white asparagus and potato. Allow the asparagus to soften slightly before adding bay leaf, thyme and chicken stock. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Remove the bay leaf and thyme before pureeing the mixture in a blender and passing it through a fine sieve. Season to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, sugar and nutmeg.

Warm White Asparagus and Blue Crab Salad:
Bring the water to a boil with the sugar, salt, and lemon juice and drop in the asparagus; cook over low heat. When the asparagus is cooked, it should bend to a 90º angle when held by the tip. Cool the asparagus in ice and the poaching liquid to retain the flavor. Immediately remove from the ice and dry on paper towels, slice into 1-inch pieces in a bias. Mix together the vinegar, oil, pinch of salt and sugar, shallots and tomatoes. Just before serving toss in the asparagus and crab meat and heat in a low-heat oven.

To Assemble and Serve:
Chill six large plates and heat six small bowls. To remove the terrine from the mold flip upside down on a large cutting board and tug at the edges of the plastic wrap to gently remove the terrine. Run a slicing knife under hot water and slice the terrine into ½ inch slices and place on the left side of the plate, garnish with fresh dill and chervil. Make sure the soup is hot and ladle it into the six bowls, placing a heaping tablespoon of the hot crab and asparagus salad into the bowl first.

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   Published: May 2006