According to a quick survey of friends from Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Missouri, the regional platter of sliced fresh summer tomatoes is not traditionally garnished with olive oil, which is a habit I picked up in recent years. In fact, our childhood memories are there to remind us of the truth, the thing that my practical dad (lover of both beef steaks and beefsteak tomatoes) and all his kinsfolk have always known: Sun, salt, and pepper, that’s all a tomato needs.
That said, after you’ve eaten your fill of plain tomatoes, here’s a garnish that doesn’t obscure their purity. The horseradish ice looks fancy but is easy to prepare. And when you take the icy sweet horseradish granite and the warm juicy tomatoes in one bite, summer meets winter, sweetness meets heat, and the saline beads of moisture on the surface of the tomatoes are enough to make a drizzle of olive oil wholly unnecessary.
It nearly goes without saying, but this side dish is excellent with a steak.
Tomato Carpaccio with Horseradish Ice
Recipe from The New Midwestern Table by Amy Theilen
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup grated fresh horseradish, or 3 tablespoons good-quality prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon sugar
Fine sea salt
2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, beefsteak and cherry
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Whisk together the milk, horseradish, sugar, and 3/8 teaspoon salt, and pour into a glass dish. Freeze for 1 hour, or until the milk at the sides of the dish begins to freeze.
With a fork, rake the frozen sides into the slushy center. Freeze for another 30 minutes. Rake it again and then freeze until solid, another 30 to 60 minutes. Just before serving, rake it again to make fresh shards of horseradish ice.
Slice the tomatoes and lay them out on a platter. Drizzle the tomatoes with the lemon juice and sprinkle with a fine spray of salt, pepper, and the chopped parsley. Let sit until the tomatoes start to perspire from the sale, 15 minutes or so. Just before serving, top the tomatoes with raked clumps of horseradish ice. Rush to the table.