Strawberries and Tomatoes together. Are you surprised?
Little Details Make a Difference
A few weeks ago, I was going through my never-stopping-to-increase pile of cooking magazines and I stopped at the view of a picture, very similar to the one you see above. I paused and thought “Ca, c’est trop mignon!” (It is too cute). For a second, I wondered what attracted me to the cover of one of my Elle à table magazines more than to others. The colour of course, as red is really eye-catching, but then with the colour came the design: the tomatoes on a branch, which to me meant freshness, market, field, garden, summer. In less than a millisecond, I must have thought unconsciously about all of those things. And those details talked to me right away. This branch was a tiny little touch, yet it made the difference in the design of the featured recipe. In short, presentation was definitely what sold me on the idea of the recipe that I immediately decided I was going to make. As a coincidence, a week after I had made the dish, I caught a glimpse of a lovely photo posted by Nicky and Oliver at Delicious Days, and you might all remember it here. In this, I see pure beauty in a few tomatoes. Magical, don’t you think! You get a dream of gorgeous-looking tiny tomatoes. How can you not love tomatoes then?
The recipe itself
When fruit and vegetable are together in one dish, what shall we call it? Appetizer? Dessert? In the realm of gastronomy, there are some food associations that are considered weird or unexpected. Even more so these days, when looking at every single chef trying to be more innovative and creating what they think has not been done before (and since this planet is quite old we shall say, I think it requires some skills and talent for those big names in the chef profession to reach uniquenes). My taste is generally not in favour of sweet and savoury flavours together. I am not saying it is bad, but I am just not too fond of it. For example, I would never order a pizza with pineapple, or a pineapple fried rice. Maybe because pineapple is very sweet, thus I find the contrast too extreme. Yet I love to eat a canard à l’orange (duck with orange sauce) or cailles aux raisins (quails with grapes). Donc pourquoi je raconte tout cela? (why am I saying all this?) Il n’y a pas de règle (there is no rule). Taste is a personal affair. But wait, maybe tomatoes are not vegetables.
Is Tomato a Fruit or a Vegetable?
This is a long debate but in short:
“The confusion about ‘fruit’ and ‘vegetable’ arises because of the differences in usage between scientists and cooks. Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower, and contain the seeds of the plant (though cultivated forms may be seedless). Blueberries, raspberries, and oranges are true fruits, and so are many kinds of nut. Some plants have a soft part which supports the seeds and is also called a ‘fruit’, though it is not developed from the ovary: the strawberry is an example. As far as cooking is concerned, some things which are strictly fruits may be called ‘vegetables’ because they are used in savoury rather than sweet cooking. The tomato, though technically a fruit, is often used as a vegetable, and a bean pod is also technically a fruit. The term ‘vegetable’ is more generally used of other edible parts of plants, such as cabbage leaves, celery stalks, and potato tubers, which are not strictly the fruit of the plant from which they come. Occasionally the term ‘fruit’ may be used to refer to a part of a plant which is not a fruit, but which is used in sweet cooking: rhubarb, for example. So a tomato is the fruit of the tomato plant, but can be used as a vegetable in cooking.”
Source: Oxford dictionary
Which serves as a purpose to clear the confusion. No matter what they are, you can decide what you want to do with them. After a check on the ingredients required in my chosen recipe, I looked at what I had and wanted to change. Seule maîtresse à bord (literally, the only mistress on board = alone to decide) I substituted cane sugar for vanilla sugar , balsamic vinegar for white balsamic vinegar, and olive oil for almond oil. This also shows you how open a recipe can be. The rest of the ingredients stayed pretty much the same. I forgot about my prejudice on sweet/savoury associations and set myself to work. As you will see, not much work was required, et je dis, c’est tant mieux! (I like it this way).
And did I like it?
-I did. Don’t you just want a bite of this juicy tomato?
-Since a tomato is a fruit, technically it is a dessert, don’t you think?
- 1 lb + 2 oz cherry tomatoes
- 1 lb + 2 oz small strawberries
- 5 Tbsp almond oil
- 3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla syrup
- Fleur de sel and pepper
- 12 basil leaves
- Wash the fruit, basil and tomatoes. Dry them.
- Mix the vinegar with the syrup.
- Slice the strawberries and tomatoes (in halves). Mix them.
- Pour over a dash of almond oil, then the vinegar/syrup.
- Serve immediately with basil leaves, fleur de sel and ground pepper.
- 500 g tomates cerises
- 500 g fraises (petites)
- 5 càs d’huile d’amande
- 3 càs de vinaigre balsamique blanc
- 1 càs sirop de vanille
- Fleur de sel et poivre du moulin
- 12 feuilles de basilic
- Lavez les fruits et légumes, et les feuilles de basilic.
- Mélangez le vinaigre au sirop.
- Coupez les fraises et les tomates en 2. Mélangez-les.
- Arrosez d’huile d’amande, puis du mélange vinaigre sucré.
- Servez aussitôt accompagné de feuilles de basilic, de fleur de sel, et de poivre du moulin.
Adapted from a recipe from Elle à table
i LOVE tomatoes! in fact, i just returned home from trader joe’s, where they always have the finest picks of sweet little globes, and ended up with quite a few!
excellent article and photos, bea! it would seem that you have concluded the debate of fruit vs. vegetable: tomatoes are whatever you want them to be! 🙂
Oooh this would be a perfect addition to any brunch, I would think!
Completely gorgeous Bea as always!
Fraises & tomates, tomates & fraises : une belle alliance à laquelle je n’aurais pas pensé. Heureusement, tu es là ! Et vu comme ça, ça paraît si évident. Bravo.
Hmmm. Don’t know if I’m convinced. Maybe if you added some loquats?
Absolutely fabulous picture of the tomatoes with the water glistening. The red really pops with the stark white back-ground. Truly fantastic!
This sounds great! I was watching a program here and they ate their tomatoes with milk…I guess the tomatoes were really sweet!
Ok je comprends mieux maintenant, tu penses d’abord à l’esthétique de ta recette avant de penser au goût. Pas étonnant que tes photos en jettent autant ! Moi par contre juste tomates et fraises… je sais pas… je crois que j’ajouterai des baby spinach… je peux ?
Excellent et trop mignon en effet. La vinaigrette semble vraiment délicieuse. Je pense bien nous préparer ça pour cette fin de semaine.
J’ai planté des tomates “barbaniaka”, les préférée du chef Michel Bras. De longue grappes de petites tomates très parfumées. L’an passé nous nous en sommes régalé. Cette année, je vais aussi les faire selon cette recette. Peut-être juste à peine rôtie comme Michel Bras les prépare dans son restaurant.
Thanks chanelle, you are right, they are want we decide they are! 😉
Bron, yes this is a great idea!
Camille, la simplicite de la recette en fait son succes je crois, et la douceur sucree de la vinaigrette
Amanda thanks a lot!
Kat, ah interesting. In Japan?
Non non, ce n’est pas l’esthetique avant le gout, mais c’est vrai que c’est tres important car je n’y peux rien, je suis super sensible a la presentation. Je mange d’abord avec les yeux. Et il est vrai que j’ai deja mange des trucs tres beaux et tres mauvais, et que si cela arrive, je ne me fais pas prendre au piege deux fois. Pas folle! 😉
Pour ce qui est de cette recette, j’etais moi meme surprise par ces saveurs douces et je l’ai aime comme cela. Mais comme tu dis, tout est permis!
ah j’aimerais bien voir ton jardin. 😉 il est grand? C’est vrai que la vinaigrette est simple et delicieuse. J’ai essaye avec huile d’olive aussi et c’est aussi tres bien.
Super beau, tu rajoutes des asperges et tu as ta recette de blog-appétit. Je dirais entrée…
Tomates et vanille, c’est bon. Fraises et balsamique, c’est bon. Donc, si on suit la logique, Descartes était Français ne l’oublions pas, les 4 ensemble, çà devrait aussi être bon.
Une belle idée. Dieu que j’ai hâte à l’été.
Je voulais te dire que tes photos sont sublimes.
Tomatoes and strawberries … great idea!
The colour goes together. And I definitely think the flavour goes together.
And I can only imagine how refreshing it is!
Bea, I’m not sure what I think of this dish. I think strawberries are versatile enough to stand up to many savoury treatments, but part of me is unsure of this combination. It’s not, I think, that tomatoes are traditionally savoury and strawberries sweet; no, I think it’s more the condiments, which are also a mix of sweet and savoury. What I’m trying to say, is that the tomato/strawberry combination seems fine, but I almost wish the dressing gave the dish a clearer focus. The proof, I guess, is in the pudding, and I would quite eagerly try this before arriving at any conclusions. So, were can I get a bowl?
This whole idea is very interesting and inspiring. Tomatoes as a dessert opens up a whole new world! I’ll have to try this when tomatoes and stawberries are more in season out here.
Wonderful picture and post. This is actually a favorite combination of mine. Early on in my courtship of my wife, I used to make her canapés of cherry tomatoes stuffed with strawberries. I would dice the strawberries and mix them with sugar syrup, mint, a bit of balsamic vinegar and vodka. It was a lovely pick me up.
It’s a good idea : tomatoes and strawberries, what flavour !
What an interesting combination! I’d very much like to try this!
Thanks for clarifying the fruit or vegetable debate! 😉
Gracianne, oui tu as raison!
Tarzile, ah, tu es drole et c’est la logique fonctionne! Merci pour ton mot!
Ivonne, thanks my dear. Yes very fresh indeed!
Rob, yes it is interesting to hear that you mention the dish might be missing a clearer focus. I however liked its softness, hence decided to substitute olive oil for almond oil. Maybe the olive oil gives a clearer edge. A bowl can be served at my house and the door is open!
Thanks From our kitchen. Hopefully the season will be plentiful soon.
Chubby Hubby, thanks a lot. What a great way to do a courtship. Your wife is a lucky one. I love the vodka touch and will surely try it!
Fabienne, merci! And welcome back!
Paz, a clarification like this is always necessary. Hopefully I won’t forget now that I wrote it!
It looks nice but all that oil and syrup no good for your waistline.