A delightfully cooling summer appetizer

April 07, 2017


Bring sugar and water to a boil. Simmer until all sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in basil sprigs to make basil “tea.” Let cool for half an hour.

Place chopped tomatoes with all their juices in blender with pepper, lemon juice and salt. Blend until juiced. Pass through a fine sieve and push as many solids through the sieve as possible.

Remove basil stalks from simple syrup. Add to tomato puree, testing for sweetness and flavor. Pour into a shallow pan in the freezer and stir every 20 minutes until crystals form and granita occurs.

About this recipe

“Long-time executive chef at Blackberry Farm as well as Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers, and now at his own Rhubarb in Asheville, Chef Fleer is a gentle giant who works magic in the kitchen. This is a delightfully cooling summer appetizer which could serve just as well as a palate cleanser, or as a dessert.” – Appalachian Appetite. 

Recipe by John Fleer, courtesy of Appalachian Appetite by Susi Gott Séguret, published by Hatherleigh Press.

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  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs basil
  • 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes (all of the same color and preferably the same variety), chopped
  • Pinch freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
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