Tomate du saltambique is an extremely tasty and delicious dessert that you won’t be able to get enough of. Yes, you read right—it’s a dessert made with tomatoes that’s so flavorful you won’t even need to add sweeter.
What exactly should you add? This dessert already has 12 awesome flavors (the original recipe, not those modified variants out there) and that’s enough sweetness to satiate your taste buds.
Now, let’s get started with a little behind-the-scenes action on your new favorite dessert.
Background Check On Tomate Du Saltambique
This tomato dessert originated from France, and not The West Wing. The West Wing TV series is crucial to its fame in America, but definitely not in France and especially not in the 3-star restaurant of Alain Passard.
Alain Passard is a French chef and might be the creator of the original recipe for tomate du saltambique. The origin of the recipe is lost, but the first mention of it was by Alain Passard when he served it in his 3-star Michelin restaurant, L’Arpege, some twenty-five years ago.
He referred to the meal as a tomato confit with a dozen flavors. Well, not exactly in those words, but that’s what you’ll get when you translate his French description of the dessert (tomate confite farcie aux douze saveurs) into English.
Tomatoes as a dessert may sound really tricky. Many people may even argue it’s not possible, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re thinking this too. Tomatoes are one fruit that doesn’t typically come to mind when thinking of ingredients to make a dessert with.
But there’s a complexity to the flavor. For example, this saltambique is made with tomatoes, apples, pear, and other fruit flavors. The recipe also incorporates nuts (walnuts to be exact), ginger, zest, and a few other garnishes.
The pulp and seeds of the tomatoes are removed and the soft inner fruit is then stuffed with the other fruits and nuts and stewed in creme caramel—it is actually crème caramel and not crème du caramel, just in case you are guilty of using the latter descriptor.
Though this dessert has been around for a while, it wasn’t popularized until the show The West Wing made reference to it in one of their episodes. Wondering which episode that is? Erm, you’re going to have to find out that for yourself. Hint: The president, Josiah Bartlet was a pretty big fan of this recipe.
That being said, if you paid close attention while watching that particular episode, you probably discarded it as some made-up TV food and not actual food. Good news—tomate du saltambique is real and you weren’t the only one who questioned the existence of this dessert. We all did, but Google wasn’t initially very helpful to validate us. Thankfully, Google has now caught up, and it’s all thanks to the reference made in The West Wing.
Phew, tomatoes sure do like the spotlight.
First, it was relearning that they are a type of fruit and not a vegetable. This time around, they’re letting us know that they can be used to make desserts, and flavorful desserts at that!
Alain Passard’s Original Tomate Du Saltambique
Enough with the background check; that’s not going to help us make this dessert. This tomato dessert is actually easy to make and will take no more than 3 hours to prepare. The 3-hour time estimate includes the time needed to prepare your ingredients. It may seem like a lot of time but the wait will be worth it once your dessert is ready.
Here is a really long list of things you need in order to make this awesomely flavorful dish:
- 4 medium-sized cherry tomatoes: Beefsteak tomatoes work just fine too. Go for firm ripe tomatoes; if they are too soft, they will fall apart while being stewed.
- 70 grams of pineapple: This should be peeled, cored and then finely chopped into very tiny bits.
- 190 grams of pears: These should also be chopped into very tiny bits after being peeled. They need to be small enough to stuff into the tomatoes.
- 200 grams of apples: Peeled, cored and chopped into very tiny bits.
- One whole-star anise pod.
- Cinnamon: A pinch is all that’s needed.
- 4 grams of orange zest.
- 4 grams of lemon zest.
- 10 grams of walnut, chopped. You could also toast the walnuts.
- 10 grams of almonds, chopped.
- 10 grams of pistachios, chopped (and roasted, if you fancy roasted pistachios).
- Ground cloves.
- Ginger, peeled and grated.
- 4 slices of orange peel (optional).
- White sugar.
- Heavy cream.
That’s how long an ingredient list gets when you want a dessert with awesome flavors; a dessert no one can say no to, including those who are not usually fond of tomatoes. Now, let’s get down to the recipe.
- Place a sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter and allow to melt. Instead of butter, you can also use brown sugar. All you need to do is add a thin layer of brown sugar and allow that to melt.
- Once the butter or sugar has melted, pour in the minced apple, pear, pineapple, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, lemon zest, orange zest, and grated ginger. Then allow everything to sauté for about five minutes.
- Next, add the star anise pod, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of ground cloves, and a little bit of white granulated sugar. Remove the star anise pod after sautéing for another five to ten minutes. This is enough time for the flavors to blend beautifully together. Remove the pan from heat and keep aside.
- Over medium heat, and in a saucepan, heat up some butter and heavy cream to make a creamy mixture that will be used to make the créme caramel. Add a pinch of salt, then remove from heat.
- Over medium heat, use a large pot and pour in about a cup of white granulated sugar (could be brown sugar, your choice) and allow it to melt. When the white sugar melts, it should be the color of whiskey.
- Now, gradually add the cream mixture into the pot. As you pour it in, whisk continuously until it is well mixed. Remove the pot from heat. The mixture won’t be thick but that’s okay; it will thicken up later.
- Time to work on our tomatoes. Do not blanch or skin the tomatoes or else they fall apart while being stewed. Cut the top of the tomatoes and remove their insides. Make sure to get all the seeds out. Then, place the tomatoes upright in a sauté pan. If you have a little difficulty getting them upright, then lean them against each other.
By the way, instead of throwing out the insides of the tomatoes, you could always eat them as a healthy prelude to dessert!
- Stuff the tomatoes with the mixture of sautéed fruits, nuts, and spices. Do not overstuff them. Cover them with the tops that were earlier cut off. Pour the créme caramel into the sauté pan till it covers the tomatoes midway.
- Place the sauté pan with the tomatoes over the stovetop and turn on low heat. This should stew nice and slow. Add four slices of the orange peel into the créme caramel. While allowing to stew for about 90 to 120 minutes, occasionally baste the tomatoes with the créme caramel. Do not let the tomatoes fall apart. They should be tender, not disintegrated.
- Serve the tomato dessert in a little pool of créme caramel.
You can serve this alongside anise or vanilla ice cream, or just your preferred flavor of ice cream.
And that’s how you make tomate confite farcie aux douze saveurs (sounds fancy doesn’t it?).
If you finally figured out that this tomato dessert was featured in season 2, episode 17 (the stack house filibuster episode) of The West Wing, then you might have also realized that this is not exactly the way it was made in the political drama series. So how was it made there? You’ll find out soon…
Tomate Du Saltambique Recipe from ‘The West Wing’
First off, know that The West Wing tomate du saltambique does not have twelve flavors. Their version was basically a tomato stuffed with hazelnuts, passion fruit, and kiwi, that was stewed for about three hours in crème caramel and served in a pool of pomegranate reduction. Though it has less flavor, it still makes for a delicious dessert.
Here is what you need to make this version:
- 3 chopped kiwis.
- The pulp of 6 ripe passion fruits. The seeds are tart and can be removed if you don’t like them.
- Chopped hazelnuts.
- 4 beefsteak tomatoes. Firm ones.
- Crème caramel.
- Two pomegranates.
- ¼ cup of white sugar (or brown sugar).
- Mix the chopped kiwis, chopped hazelnuts, and the pulp of the passion fruits together.
- Cut off the top of the tomatoes and empty the insides. Ensure that there are no seeds left. (You can stuff your face with these insides if you wish.)
- Stuff your beafsteak tomatoes with the mixed fruits and nuts and cover them with the tops that were cut off earlier. Place them in a small pot. Remember, if you have trouble getting them to stay upright, lean them against each other.
- Fill the pot to submerge the stuffed tomatoes midway with the already-prepared crème caramel and allow this to stew for three hours.
The series recipe says to stew for 3 hours but the tomatoes will most likely fall apart. You probably don’t want this, so instead stew them for about 2 hours or until the tomatoes are tender yet firm. Constantly baste them with the créme caramel while they stew.
- While the stuffed tomates are stewing, make your pomegranate reduction. First, rip apart the rind of the pomegranates and soak them in a large bowl of water. This will make the seeds come out nicely, and is a cleaner way of extracting the pomegranate seeds.
- Blend the seeds and sieve the blended mixture to get the juice. Pour the juice in a saucepan, add your quarter cup of white sugar and combine.
- Serve the pomegranate reduction onto a bowl and add your stuffed tomatoes.
Simple, huh? Yeah, I know.
There are many versions of this dessert available. But the one thing in common with them all is the combination of stuffed tomatoes stewed in crème caramel. Another version of this famous tomate confit is served with orange syrup, instead of créme caramel or pomegranate reduction. This version is flavored with vanilla, so it already sounds like a winner.
One more interesting version incorporates a pinch of cardamom and peach sauce. The peach and other fruits are chopped and then grilled for a few minutes. The peach sauce is then a pureed mixture used as a topping on your tomate du saltambique.
And that’s all there is to tomate du saltambique! Thanks to everyone who made this dessert available for our eating pleasure. Tomatoes for dessert is possible—a worthy excuse for having more tomatoes in your refrigerator.
Willing to make tomate confit farcie aux douze saveurs even more famous? If that is a yes, then why not consider making this for your family’s Christmas dessert, or for New year’s, or any other special occasion!
Thrill your dinner guests with tomate du saltambique and don’t forget to watch their expressions when you tell them that you made tomatoes for dessert. Epic!