Sounds gross doesn't it... ice cream and tomatoes. Same was my first reaction to the recipe and almost everyone I told about it, but it turned out amazing! I posted about heirloom tomatoes a couple of weeks ago and included some interesting tomato recipes I wanted to try for dessert - this being one of them. The recipe came from Oliveto, a local restaurant in the Bay area. Each summer they conjure up new desserts with tomatoes for the season depending on what the farms grow and how they are tasting. I was lucky enough to stumble across the recipes while searching for tomato desserts and definitely plan to make it again.
Two firsts for me with this recipe - first time to make ice cream and first time to make a caramel sauce. The ice cream was pretty simple. I think the most difficult part was tempering the eggs and adding them back to the heat to thicken, but doing this is not hard if you've done it before. The rest was simple. Steeping the walnuts and cream added a lovely aroma to the house and the ice cream machine did all the work! Not like your old fashioned hand crank operation. (Thanks Emily for letting me borrow it!) We tried the ice cream before it was hard and before adding the sauce and it was delicious. Nutty, toasty, with a really smooth texture.
I let it sit in the freezer for a couple of days until I could muster up the courage to make this tomato caramel sauce. It was probably the scariest thing I have ever cooked on the stove top. Just imagining the temperature of the bubbling sugar made me really nervous... deciphering whether or not the sauce was "tawny" enough in color... adding the tomato juice causing a small explosion of candy and liquid in the pan! whew! In the end it was good. I had no idea whether or not it would get thick so I left it in the pyrex and went out to dinner. We came home to find the sauce had thickened and retained its pretty reddish color. It smelled nice - and tomato-y and still I was nervous to drizzle it on top. My husband told me earlier in the week when we tasted the ice cream by itself that he did not want any tomato sauce to ruin good ice cream, but in the end I think he was convinced. A friend had stopped by that night for a little while so I had her join in the taste test. I think we were all really surprised how good it turned out. It had a really unique flavor that is quite hard to describe. The tomato sauce accentuated the nuttiness of the cream well - a perfect pairing. Now I just need to find another use for the leftover sauce!
This is definitely not an attempt to get something healthy into the diet by adding tomato (reading the ingredient list will convince you of this) - but if you find yourself with tons of tomatoes this summer give it a try - you might be as surprised as we were.