Are you looking for the perfect late summer appetizer? Look no further. This tomato jam and whipped basil goat cheese are all the good things about summer, casual gatherings and friends rolled into one and then slathered onto a cracker.
This tomato jam recipe first came on my radar a few years ago when old friends from college (by way of India!) were in town and I wanted to make a nice summer meal to welcome them back to the Midwest. I immediately went to my (all-time favorite) cookbook: The America’s Test Kitchen Menu Cookbook, and I found this recipe for tomato jam suggested as an appetizer along with a summery grilled flank steak and vegetables. Grilled steak and veggies are always a winner for a summer meal, but this tomato jam recipe stood out and I knew I had to try it. Since then, it’s been a constant summer presence in this house, popping up on everything from cheese boards to breakfast sandwiches.
It’s just SO good and such a great way to use up tomatoes in late summer. It’s super savory but also jammy and sweet, with good tomato flavor, just enough heat from some jalapeño and ginger, and a solid hit of umami from the fish sauce. It keeps really well at room temp so there’s no fear of your appetizer going south after it sits out for a happy hour. I haven’t ever attempted to “can” it because we usually go through it really quickly, but I might just try that later this season. Then maybe in the dead of winter, I’ll make a BLT and long for those hot humid August days.
Now, onto the cheese. In the menu cookbook, it recommends serving the tomato jam on garlic toast with Farmer’s Cheese but I find that goat cheese is similar and much easier to find in your every day grocery. The tang of goat cheese with the acidic sweetness of the tomato jam. Ugh, it’s so good. And since you now all know that my basil plant is really flourishing, as it has worked its way into just about every recipe of the last few weeks, naturally I decided to do a simple basil whipped goat cheese to cap off just how much summer I can physically cram into one bite.
These can both be prepared a few days ahead and pulled out of the fridge a few hours before friends come over. The ingredient list for the jam is long, but the instructions are dead simple. This is a recipe I come back to time and time again and I know if you added it to your summer repertoire you won’t be disappointed.
Tomato Jam & Whipped Basil Goat Cheese
Makes 2 Cups Tomato Jam and 1 Cup Goat Cheese | Jam recipe courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen Menu Cookbook
For the Tomato Jam:
2 lbs. plum tomatoes, cored & chopped
1.25 C granulated sugar
3/4 C red wine vinegar
1/4 C fish sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large jalapeño chile, stemmed and seeded (leave the seeds in if you are looking to spice up your jam!), and finely minced
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 star anise pods
For the Goat Cheese:
8 oz goat cheese
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
pinch of kosher salt
For the Tomato Jam:
Prepare all ingredients, and add to 12 inch skillet. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until things start looking thick and jammy, about 25 minutes. Remove and toss star anise pods in the trash. Using a potato masher, stomp the tomatoes until the mixture is relatively smooth, or to your liking. Continue to simmer over low heat until a wooden spoon dragged through the jam leaves a significant trail, about 10-15 minutes longer.
Add mixture to medium bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. You can make the jam up to 7 days ahead of serving, and it will keep in the fridge for another week or so. Just let it come to room temp before serving.
For the Goat Cheese:
Allow the cheese to soften at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Add softened goat cheese, chopped basil heavy cream and pinch of salt to food processor. Process until basil is finely chopped and mixture is significantly lightened and whipped. Transfer to serving dish. This cheese can also be made a day or so in advance (and the basil flavor will be more pronounced the longer it hangs in the fridge!), let come to room temperature before serving.
Serve both the tomato jam and cheese along side crackers, garlic toasts, good wine and friends!