Fried Green Tomatoes

This is what I had for lunch today.  And there's no way a picture can do it justice (even if it was a good picture).  It's just one of those things that tastes so much better than it looks. These were tomatoes fresh from the garden, mostly green but just barely starting to get a little color.  These were the big yellow heirloom tomatoes, so the color they were starting to get was just a touch of yellow. I looked around at fried green tomato recipes, and they all seem to have milk or buttermilk, and flour.  And I can't really figure out why any of that is necessary - maybe with ordinary tomatoes it is.  I love the crunch of the cornmeal, and I didn't want to add flour to that.  And the tomatoes are so juicy that dipping them in something wet doesn't seem to make any sense.  All I did here was slice, and dip in cornmeal that had been seasoned with a little salt, garlic powder and onion powder.  I think one important part of what made these so good was the quality of the corn meal.  I use Bob's Red Mill Organic Cornmeal, Medium.  This is cornmeal that actually tastes like corn, and it has some texture to it.  Then I fried them in a little olive oil until golden, and I ate them with just a few drops of Tabasco.  Even I was surprised at how good these were - sweet and tangy and crunchy and buttery.  I ate three whole tomatoes.  yes - three.  I cooked two, and loved it so much that I went back and did another tomato.

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The Freshest Tomato Sauce - or Tomato Soup

This is another one of those unbelievably simple things, that just oozes amazing flavor.   I think I keep repeating myself - but I really am going to miss when these yummy summer tomatoes are gone.  This was the first summer that I've had a garden since before my babies were born, and I have just been loving the fresh produce - but especially the tomatoes.

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This is the simplest of sauces - quick, easy, and so delicious.  I used mostly small roma tomatoes, plus a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes.  Since they were so small and tender, I just dumped them in the Vitamix whole, along with a couple cloves of garlic, a bunch of fresh basil leaves, a little salt and a little olive oil.  Turn it on, and blend 'til smooth.  No need to seed or peel or do anything, this blender takes it all down to nothing.  Then I put that in a pot on the stove and simmered it for a bit.

We had this over pasta as a sauce, and I had it as a bowl of soup with some leftover croutons from the day before's tomato bread salad.    On the side of the soup was a wrap, with my eggplant dip and squash dip, tomatoes, basil and greens - one of the best lunches ever.  And I have a couple jars saved in the freezer!

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Tomato & Bread Salad

I can - and will (and maybe already have) go on and on about summer tomatoes.  Much of the country is probably all tomatoed out by now - but here in the Pacific Northwest we are just kicking it into gear.  We have had some smaller tomatoes ripe for the last month, but it's only in the last week or so that I am getting the really good, big slicing tomatoes.

Tomato bread salad is one of my very favorite things to make with the freshest and juiciest summer tomatoes.  I can't think of a better way to show off and savor the flavors of these ripe off the vine tomatoes.

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The first step is to make homemade garlic croutons.  It's easier than it sounds.  For this one - I used a loaf of crusty homemade white bread.  I cut into thick slices and toast in a 375 - 400 degree oven until lightly browned.  Then I take whole cloves of garlic and rub the bread - the garlic melts and disintegrates into the bread, and the bread gets a wonderful garlicky flavor.  Then I cut the slices of bread into cubes, toss with some olive oil and salt, and spread them back on the cookie sheet to toast a little more until really crunchy and all over golden brown.

While the bread is toasting - cut  tomatoes into cubes.  I like to keep the pieces big so they hold their texture and shape as the salad is tossed.  And I love to be able to use a few different kinds or colors of tomatoes.  Chop up a bunch of fresh basil, and finely dice some more fresh garlic.  Toss the tomatoes, basil and garlic with some good olive oil and a little salt.  Quanties really depend on personal preference - I like a nice balance of tomatoes to bread, and I like a lot of garlic and a pretty good amount of salt.  You can also add a little finely diced red onion if you like.

When the croutons are done and a little cooled, toss with the tomato & basil mixture.  Taste for seasoning and maybe add a little more salt.  Then let it sit for a little while, stirring occasionally to make sure all the juices get mixed in.  The juice comes out of the tomatoes and soaks into the croutons.  It's just perfect when the croutons are mostly soaked, but still have just a bit of crunch left.  This is just so good.

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Summer Squash Dip

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I have had sooo much squash from the garden this summer - all from three plants! And while I do love it, one gets a little tired of eating it in the same few ways over and over again (like this lunch I had the other day, or this zucchini bread & muffins). And we've got a lot more yellow summer squash than regular green zucchini anyway. I have a couple of favorite dip recipes (this one, and this one) that involve mixing cooked veggies with some yummy stuff - so I thought this might also be possible for squash. I did a little internet searching and came across this one - it sounded great! Squash with cumin, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and yogurt. Who doesn't love those things?

So here is what I did:

Ingredients:

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  • A couple of large summer squashes - I think any kind would work.  I've used a large yellow summer squash (the kind that looks like zucchini but are yellow), and the round pattypan squashes.  Actually I bet this would even work with zucchini.
  • Garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • tahini
  • cumin
  • lemon juice
  • plain yogurt
  • fresh garlic

I tossed the cubed squash with olive oil and salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, and then roasted in the oven at 350 convection on a cookie sheet for about 40 minutes - turning several times, until the cubes were a little brown and very soft. Then I dumped that in the food processor and added the other ingredients.  I used ground cumin, and I used my own homemade whole milk yogurt. And of course there's the fact that I never measure anything, so I didn't follow the quantities in the recipe, I just throw stuff in and blend and taste and keep adding and blending until I like it. I'm sure it ended up being more garlic and lemon juice and cumin than the original recipe calls for, because that's just how I like stuff. And I did it in my food processor - because I have 4 kids and a mortar and pestle, or smushing things with forks, just isn't really going to happen.  Plus, I really like the creamy texture that the food processor gives it.

This was good. Really, really good. I will definitely be making it again.

I might try it without the yogurt next time, just to see how it is as a vegan option. I think maybe adding a little more lemon juice to replace the tanginess of the yogurt.

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Pictured here: Curried Carrot Dip, Eggplant dip (done in the food processor, so creamier than the one in my original post), and Summer squash dip.

Update: I made the squash dip again with no yogurt - so a vegan version.  I just used a little more of the other ingredients to bump up the flavor a bit, and it is also really, really good this way.