Although it hasn't been the best year for them, weather-wise, this is usually the season for harvesting your homegrown tomatoes. And if you're one of the lucky few with a bumper crop of these babies on hand, you may be looking for ways to use them up.
If any from your bounty is of the green persuasion, might I suggest these three words:
Fried. Green. Tomatoes.
Courtesy of Executive Chef Scott Spaulding of the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel, this week's recipe pairs those tomatoes with goat cheese, red pepper relish and fresh micro greens to create a gorgeous late-summer Southern dish.
Are fried green tomatoes really "Southern?"
Although widely considered such - and now a staple on restaurant menus throughout the South - food historian Robert F. Moss says there's actually no record of them originating there.
"I found 11 recipes for fried green tomatoes published in newspapers between 1900 and 1919, but interestingly all 11 were in Northern or Midwestern cities ranging from Fitchburg, Mass., to Lincoln, Neb. - the Southern-most being Frederick, Md., a border state at best."
I don't really care where they originated. I'm just glad they did!
Speaking of an abundance of tomatoes, over the course of a growing season experts say a healthy plant can produce more than 12 pounds of tomatoes.
Another way to put them to good use is by making a big pot of gazpacho, one of my all-time favorite summer treats. A soup traditionally served cold, gazpacho showcases an entire summer harvest in a small, nutrient-packed cup or bowl.
Courtesy of Nielsen-Massey Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract (say that three times fast!) this week's recipe uses vanilla to help cut acidity in this tomato-heavy dish.
A word of caution, though: If using fresh tomatoes, this recipe is a wee bit labor-intensive. You can save time and effort with good-quality canned tomatoes, but the results probably won't be nearly as nice.
Our neighborhood pool hosted an awesome party this past Saturday night featuring delicious Sangria, frosty beer, tangy barbecue and a variety of tasty nibbles brought by friends and neighbors.
Among our contributions was a platter of Chile-Corn Custard Squares from a recipe the wife snagged from Bon Appetit.
"I think they'll go great with the barbecue and beer," she said. How right she was.
A mixture of sauteed onions, creamed corn, diced jalapenos, cheddar cheese and eggs is baked into creamy squares topped with salsa and sour cream before serving.
They pack a little heat, but the slightly sweet corn center and cool dollop of sour cream provide the perfect balance.
Fried Green Tomatoes
with Roasted Red Pepper Relish
Seasoned corn meal
Egg wash (1-2 eggs whisked with a little milk)
Crumbled goat cheese
Assorted micro greens
1. Slice green tomatoes to a quarter-inch thick. Using standard breading procedure, bread tomato slices with seasoned flour, egg wash and, finally, seasoned corn meal.
2. Fry tomatoes at 350 degrees until golden brown.
3. Heat red pepper relish (recipe below) and place relish on plate. Arrange tomatoes over relish and garnish with crumbled goat cheese and micro greens.
Roasted Red Pepper Relish
6 ozs. roasted red peppers
1/4 small red onion, diced small
2 1/2 oz. brown sugar
2 1/4 oz. cider vinegar
1/2 oz. butter
1/3 tsp. ground cardamom
3/4 tsp. corn starch