The lack of a commute (and IRL social life) has gifted us a whole lot of free time lately. Lots of you out there are using the extra time to cook grander meals then you have ever done before. But are you ready for your grandest yet?
If you’re down for the challenge, this dish from the Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social is a wonderful way to while away your time. The flagship restaurant of chef Jason Atherton (who’s vegan cooking tips you can read here), Pollen Street Social is the epicentre of vegan cuisine in London, with separate vegetarian and vegan à la carte menus taking pride of place in its kitchen.
“I think vegan cooking shows off some of the UK’s finest, easy to source produce,” says Atherton. “You can really strip a dish back, whilst retaining its flavour. It’s also got fantastic health benefits. In my household, we are trying to eat less meat throughout the week because of this. My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes the year before last, so turning to a more plant-based diet has been crucial to maintaining her health.”
It’s light, full of flavour and focused around some of the most wonderful, simple ingredients. Vegan or not, it’s enjoyed by all and is perfect for a lovely summer’s day.
Tomato tartare is one of Atherton’s favourite dishes on his vegan à la carte menu. “It’s light, full of flavour and focused around some of the most wonderful yet simple ingredients. Whether vegan or not, it’s enjoyed by all and is perfect for a lovely summer’s day.”
If you’re ready to make like a Michelin-starred chef, you can find the recipe below. Feel free to adapt it however you like or take elements of the dish and apply them to other creations. Remember, the beauty of home cooking is you’re the only one you have to please.
- 12 San Marzano Tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 2 shallots, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Maldon seat salt and black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and have ready a bowl of iced water. Score the tops and bottoms of the tomatoes with a large knife, removing the eye of each tomato with the tip of the knife. In 2 batches, blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to fish them out and refresh them in the iced water. Once cooled, drain the tomatoes and peel off the skins. Cut the peeled tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds. Pat each tomato quarter dry and roughly dice into 5mm squares. Set aside.
In a medium pan, heat the olive oil over a medium-low heat, add the shallots and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the diced tomatoes and gently cook for about 15 minutes or until the shallots are soft and any liquid released by the tomatoes has reduced. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the tomatoes and shallots into a bowl. Continue to simmer the liquid remaining in the pan until reduced into a syrupy consistency.
Return the tomatoes and shallots to the pan and mix with the syrupy glaze. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool, the season the tomatoes well with salt and pepper. Keep in a covered bowl in the fridge until ready to serve.
- 70ml light soy sauce
- 5 dashes of Tabasco sauce
- 200ml tomato ketchup
- 10g ready-made English mustard
- 2 teaspoons brandy
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and use a stick blender to blend them together until smooth. Transfer the dressing to a screw-top jar and set aside.
- 200ml Muscat verjus
- 500ml water
- 50g caster sugar
Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture into a bowl and leave to cool completely. Transfer to a freezer-proof container, cover and freeze for at least 4-6 hours, or overnight, until set.
- 1/4 loaf of sourdough bread
- Olive oil, for drizzling
Freeze the sourdough for 30-45 minutes until firm. Preheat the over to 160°C/140°C fan/Gas Mark 3. Use a serrated bread knife to slice the bread very thinly. Arrange the slice bread in one layer on a baking tray/ Drizzle over a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the sourdough is golden and crisp. Leave to cool, before storing in an airtight container.
- Tahini paste
- 6-8 mixed baby heritage tomatoes of various sizes
- Black olive crumb
- Mixed summer herbs
- Edible flowers
Dress the tomato tartare just before you are ready to serve. For every 3 tablespoons of tomato and shallot mixture, add a teaspoon of dressing and a teaspoon of tahini paste. Set aside to allow the flavours to infuse for a few minutes. Meanwhile cut the mixed baby tomatoes into quarters.
For each serving, place a plain ring cutter (10 – 12 cm in diameter) on a serving plate and spoon in the tomato tartare. Use the back of the spoon to smooth and level the surface. Sprinkle with a little black olive crumb. Lift off the ring cutter and garnish the tartare with the quartered tomatoes and mixed herbs or leaves. Break the sourdough slices into shards and stick a few around the tartare, then garnish with a few flowers. Remove the verjus granita from the freezer and scrape it into crystal with a fork. Place a scoop of granita in a separate serving bowl and serve immediately with the tomato tartare.
This recipe is an excerpt from ‘Pollen Street The Cookbook’ by Jason Atherton which is available at jasonatherton.co.uk. Photography © John Carey and The Social Company