Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Fresh-Picked Dinner

We've been enjoying our own little bumper crop of tomatoes this year, getting a surprising amount out of three plants. I don't think I can ever tire of having fresh tomatoes around the house. They're so good in just about everything! Here is one of my favorite recipes for using both your red, ripe tomatoes, as well as a few green ones off the vine. I've adapted it from my favorite cookbook, Fresh Everyday by Sara Foster.

Fried Green Tomato & Red Ripe Tomato Salad
Serves 6-8

big handful of mixed greens
2 lrg. ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored & sliced 1/2" thick
1 t. sea salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
2 T. sugar
1 lrg. egg
1/2 c. well-shaken buttermilk
canola oil for frying (about 1/2 c.)
4 lrg. green tomatoes, sliced 1/2" thick
1/2 pint grape or small heirloom tomatoes, halved lengthwise (optional)
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
8 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Sometimes I like to add in other things from the garden or whatever I might have on hand in the pantry: peppers, pine nuts, golden raisins, a different type of cheese. It's always fun to experiment!

Sweet Basil Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
juice of 1 lime
5-7 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Picking ingredients for dinner:
tomatoes, a banana pepper & basil

- - - Our garden is by our front porch. It's the only sunny spot! - - -

1. Stir the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and pepper together in shallow bowl.
2. Whisk the egg and buttermilk together in separate small bowl.
3. Pour enough canola oil in a large skillet to fill to 1/4" deep and heat over medium-high heat, until the oil sizzles when you drop a small amount of flour into skillet.
4. Dip a green tomato slice in the egg-buttermilk mixture to coat both sides; dredge it in the flour mixture to coat both sides; repeat. (Doing this twice makes your fried green tomato extra crispy and keeps the batter from flaking off in the skillet.)
5. Place the tomato in the hot oil. Repeat with enough tomato slices to fill the skillet without crowding, and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn and fry the other side to golden brown.
6. Remove tomatoes and drain on paper towels.
7. Arrange the fried green tomato slices and red ripe tomato slices on top of a bed of mixed greens. Scatter the small tomatoes over the slices and sprinkle with goat cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette and top with basil strips. Serve immediately.

For Sweet Basil Vinaigrette, whisk vinegar, lime juice, basil, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking until the oil is incorporated. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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