Summer is barely past us and I”m already thinking about what veggies and flowers I want to grow next year! It’s part of my winter ritual to browse online and through catalogs, finding something new and different to grow. I love growing stuff. And eating stuff.
A big part of being a great cook and eating well is knowing how to create a myriad of dishes using fresh fruits and vegetables. Grow or shop fresh, learn to cook and prepare veggies to perfection and celebrate the beauty of the bounty from the earth. Challenge yourself to work with the real thing and not the store-bought version.
For me, one of the highlights of my late-summer harvest is tomatoes. In case you missed my recent post on fresh tomato sauce, I love creating an amazing and delicious pasta sauce with the best tomatoes of the season. It’s packed full of garlic, shallots and herbs and it freezes perfectly, for you to enjoy many months into the snowy weather.
Another highlight of the end-of-tomato season is this:
fried green tomatoes with fresh tomato salsa
Fresh tomato salsa
- 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/2 jalapeno, diced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 lime, for juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and stir. Set aside until ready to serve.
Fried green tomatoes:
- 5 medium green tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups flour (your choice, I like whole wheat)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup cornmeal
- Salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup sunflower or olive oil (these are moderate heat oils because I don’t high-heat fry my fried green tomatoes)
Slice tomatoes into 3/4 inch slices, discarding (please compost!) tops.
Arrange your breading station: Place 1 cup of the flour on a plate. Beat 2 large eggs in a shallow bowl or dish. Place remaining 1/2 cup of flour and all of cornmeal on another plate and stir to combine.
Dredge a slice of tomato in flour, coating both sides and shaking off any excess. Dip floured slice in beaten egg, flipping and swishing until coated, letting excess drip off. Finally, dip slice into cornmeal/flour mix and coat well on both sides. Place battered slice on a platter and repeat with remaining slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. (My big cast iron skillet works perfectly for these). Oil should be hot but not too hot – a pinch of the flour mixture dropped in should sizzle but not immediately sputter and smoke.
Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, place slices, salt and pepper side down, in oil, leaving space in between them. Salt and pepper the tops and fry for about 5-7 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Flip tomato slices and fry on the other side for another 5-7 minutes, again until golden brown. Transfer to a warm plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all slices are cooked.
Serve fried green tomatoes topped with the fresh salsa.
As a meal, serves 2 with fresh greens, such as arugula (my favorite!) or mesclun. Serves 4 as a side.
This recipe is a true celebration of the end-of-season harvest; the burst of tart green tomatoes topped with red, ripe tomatoes. The lime juice and fresh cilantro in the salsa contrast the crunchy fried tomatoes perfectly.
I love cooking with fresh ingredients and love is a wonderful thing.
Celebrate fresh, in-season ingredients while you have them and experiment with different flavors as much as you can. Remember to never be afraid to play with your food.