Tomato jelly with crab and purple basil salad

Sophie Michelle's sophisticated summery starter is the essence of modern Italian cuisine
By Sophie Michell
Tomato jelly with crab and purple basil salad
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes plus straining and setting time
  • Effort: easy


For the jelly

  • 1 kg ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped basil
  • 50 ml spring water
  • 2 sheets gelatine

For the salad

  • 400 g picked white crab meat
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • picked purple micro basil
  • picked green micro basil
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Tips and Suggestions

White balsamic vinegar - not officailly a 'balsamic vinegar' - is much thinner and less sweet (but more mellow) than proper balsamic. It is pale gold in colour.

You'll find it in most supermarkets, including Tesco and Sainsbury's.


1. For the jelly: put the tomatoes, vinegar, caster sugar, basil and spring water in a blender with 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Blitz for about 5 minutes or until quite fine.

2. Dampen a muslin cloth. Sit a colander over a large bowl and shape the damp muslin on top. Pour in the tomato mixture and leave it to drip through the fabric under its own weight ' do not squeeze it for at least 5 hours, or overnight.

3. When it has strained through you will have about 450ml of clear tomato essence. Take out 100ml and gently heat it in a saucepan. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes or until soft. Squeeze out the gelatine and stir it into the warm tomato essence until dissolved. Stir this gelatine mixture into the rest of the tomato essence.

4. Pour the tomato jelly mixture into 4 moulds or shallow serving bowls. Chill until set, usually about 2-5 hours.

5. For the salad: mix the crab and olive oil together with some salt and pepper to taste. Pile a little crab onto each jelly then decorate with the micro basil and cherry tomatoes before serving.

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