Cherry tomato, stracciatella, black olive

Cherry tomato, stracciatella, black olive

Finding Fire

In this dish, the sweet flavour of cherry tomatoes is intensified by slow roasting to the point that they are almost candied, their thin leathery skins popping in your mouth. This is contrasted by the creamy quality of fresh stracciatella, a cheese you may recognise as the centre of burrata, and which spills forth when you slice into it. The meaty, intense empeltre olives have a wonderful crumbly texture when dried and give the stracciatella a salty tang.


Quantity Ingredient
100g empeltre olives, drained
24 cherry tomatoes on the vine
sea salt
100g caster (superfine) sugar
300ml Tomato water
2 basil stems, leaves picked and stems reserved
160ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for spraying
300g stracciatella cheese, at room temperature


  1. 1. Heat your wood-fired oven to 85–90°C (185–195°F).
  2. 2. Prise open the olives with your hands, removing the pits. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and allow the olives to slowly dry out in the oven for 2 hours, or until all the moisture has evaporated from the olives. Remove, allow to cool and coarsely chop into crumbs (see Note).
  3. 3. Cut the tomatoes from the vine and reserve the vine. Cut a shallow ‘X’ in the base of each tomato through the skin. Place the tomatoes on a tray and, using a blowtorch, scorch the tomatoes to remove the skins. Alternatively, the skin can be removed after blanching the tomatoes in boiling water for 5 seconds, then plunging them into iced water and draining.
  4. 4. Place the peeled tomatoes in a bowl, season lightly with sea salt and toss to coat.
  5. 5. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 50 ml (13/4 floz) of the tomato water. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil and cook until the liquid is very reduced and starts to turn a dark caramel colour.
  6. 6. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat, add the remaining tomato water – the mixture will bubble up quickly – then stir to combine and place back over a low heat to reduce the liquid to a syrup.
  7. 7. Remove from the heat, add 1 reserved tomato stalk and 1 basil stem. Allow to cool and steep for 5 minutes.
  8. 8. Feed your wood-fired oven to increase the temperature to around 160°C (320°F).
  9. 9. Place the tomatoes on a grill cooling rack, calyx side down, and slowly cook in the oven for 1 hour, or until they shrivel and soften. Lightly spray with olive oil halfway through cooking.
  10. 10. Remove the tomatoes from the oven, immediately drizzle with the tomato caramel and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  11. 11. Divide the stracciatella between 4 serving plates and season. Place 6 tomatoes on each plate, scatter with olive crumbs and garnish with basil leaves. Drizzle olive oil on the cheese to finish.


  • The dried olives will keep for up to 6 weeks in an airtight container.
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