The Extra Step Daniel Boulud Uses For More Flavorful Tomato Tartare

Vegetarian foodies and adventurous omnivores will gladly tell you the truth: Cooking with veggies can open up a new world of culinary possibilities. The flavors can be brighter, more complex, and can stand on their own with such prowess that even self-proclaimed "grill-masters" would be hard-pressed to notice the absence of meat. Here at Tasting Table, we love a good tartare, and steak is only the beginning. Today, we're talking about tomato tartare, a popular French dish, and how world-class French chef Daniel Boulud adds major flavor to his recipe.

When chef José Andrés makes tomato tartare, he uses the same lineup of ingredients that you might expect to find in the steak version: High-quality ketchup and mustard, a variety of spices, and balsamic vinegar. The star of his tomato tartare, though, is the anchovies, which are sourced from Santoña, Spain. "You eat these anchovies, and you will understand what an anchovy is," raves Andrés (via Wine Spectator). But anchovies aren't Boulud's secret to big flavor. If you wanted to emulate the classic meatiness of the steak version, you might even season your tomatoes with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. That isn't Boulud's secret, either.

In an interview with Today, Boulud shares that he makes his tomato tartare with salty capers, a diced shallot, fresh chopped marjoram, sherry vinegar, and olive oil — that's it. So, where does the robust flavor come from? It's one extra step that makes all the difference: Roast half of the tomatoes.

Roast half of your tomatoes

According to Boulud, the key to knockout tomato tartare is to set half of your tomatoes aside to keep fresh and arrange the other half on a baking sheet to roast in the oven. Roasting those tomatoes will naturally bring out their sweetness with a little caramelization and balance any acidity, adding depth to bright tartare. After baking, dice the roasted tomatoes and combine them with the diced fresh tomatoes for a "double flavor of tomato," as the chef tells Today. You could even toss a few sprigs of the fresh marjoram onto the baking sheet to impart an herbaceous element, as well.

Boulud calls this "the ultimate vegetarian tartare" and recommends using any variety of on-the-vine tomatoes. However, fellow French chef and NYC restauranteur Jean-Michel Bergounoux has proffered a much more specific suggestion: "6 very ripe, meaty tomatoes, about 8 ounces each (both red and yellow, if possible)" (via The New York Times). Our point here is — just pick a quality tomato, and your tartare is probably going to turn out fine.

To serve, Boulud pairs his tomato tartare with eggplant confit and stracciatella for a fresh component. If you can't track down any stracciatella in your local deli, other foodies opt for burrata or ricotta instead.