I had a nice stash of cherry tomatoes from our CSA box, and a brunch coming up, what to do? Ah...the mind instantly heads to Monica's for inspiration, which is where I first tasted these Cheeky Tomatoes. Monica, the hipster queen of all that is edible, or drinkable. So, of course she would discover this recipe, which unites two very enjoyable activities: Eating and Drinking. How can you possibly go wrong?
Originally, the recipe comes from Gourmet, but Monica found it on epicurious (how I love that site!). I shortened the moniker to Cheeky Tomatoes, but it's actually: Vodka-Spiked Cherry Tomatoes with Pepper Salt. Try saying that with a mouthful of vodka soaked tomatoes. Not easy.
These are perfect, perfect, perfect for brunch. May I suggest accompanying these with Bloody Mary's? And, may I also suggest, once you've polished off those Cheeky Tomatoes, throwing the marinade into a batch of Bloody Mary's? Oh, yum. That'll do the trick.
Here you go:
Vodka-Spiked Cherry Tomatoes with Pepper Salt or Cheeky Tomatoes - adapted from Gourmet
3 pints firm, small cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup vodka
3 Tbs white-wine vinegar*
1 Tbs superfine sugar**
1 tsp grated lemon zest
3 Tbs kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbs freshly ground black pepper
*Monica had made me, as a lovely birthday gift, some tarragon-infused vinegar, which is what I used. Scrumptious.*
**If you don't have superfine sugar, also called caster sugar, give your regular granulated sugar a quick whiz in the food processor.**
Whisk the vodka, vinegar, sugar, and lemon zest together in a medium-sized bowl. In a very small bowl, something ramekin-sized, mix the salt and pepper. This will be served alongside the tomatoes, to dip into.
Okay, so the original recipe asks that you blanch and peel all those tiny tomatoes. Balls on that. Monica didn't do it, and neither did I. Plus, I think the staying power of your tomatoes will be significantly longer if you don't peel them. Up to you, though. What Monica did, was to pierce each tomato a few times, with a toothpick, so that they still soak up the marinade, yet hold their shape. (And you're doing a lot less fiddly work.) I, however, found myself lacking in the toothpick department (I know, shocking, right?), so I was forced to improvise:
Pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself. And somewhat apropos. At least in my head. Anyway...
Give each tomato a few piercings, and toss them into the marinade. Allow to hang out for at least half an hour before serving. If you've simply pierced them, as I did, they'll be good to go for a solid few hours. If you've peeled them, you're probably looking at an hour or hour and a half. And who wants to put that kind of pressure on guests?
Serve them up, in all their gorgeous, cheeky glory, with the Pepper Salt set on the side, for dipping into. Edible Bloody Mary's. (Don't forget to use that marinade in a last batch of Mary's, now!)
Oh, yeah...might want to not have these in reach of the little ones. :)
Have a great day!