Although there’s plenty of warm weather still on the horizon, local gardeners are fretting over still-green tomatoes. I’ve already gotten a couple of requests for green-tomato recipes.
Happily, there are plenty of ripe tomatoes still to be sampled all over the valley. The Great Tomato Tasting is one of the Eat Local Challenge’s signature events, bringing customers at Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market a variety of heirloom, cherry, paste and hybrid tomatoes, courtesy of local farmers.
Saturday in Ashland, the tasting kicked off 10 days of Thrive’s efforts to raise awareness around eating locally grown, raised and produced foods. The exercise was repeated again today in Ashland. Shoppers have one last chance to participate Thursday in Medford. Find more information about local farmers markets on our web page.
Past A la Carte stories about the Challenge have explained how tomatos epitomize eating local. Fittingly, the recipe demonstrated at today’s market by chef Chandra Corwin of Cucina Biazzi used the ripest tomatoes. Her process, captured in a new video for the Mail Tribune’s website, was something of a riff on bruschetta — utterly simple but enlivened and enriched with fresh goat cheese (that’s available at the market, too).
Cooking with peak-season produce should be all about simplicity. Corwin’s demonstration took just a few minutes, so consider following her lead and sending us your own cooking demo. We’ll post it to our Cooking on Camera page.
Regardless of the dish, choose tomatoes that can’t ripen any further. Think tomatoes that are not only red (or whatever hue an heirloom will produce) but tender and aromatic.
To safeguard that aroma and flavor, follow the experts’ advice: Under no circumstances should ripe tomatoes be stored in the refrigerator. That practice kills all the flavor. Once, they’ve been chilled, tomatoes can never return to their prior state. So store them at room temperature.
Tomatoes picked slightly green, of course, are known to ripen at room temperature. In the meantime, here’s an update on the old fried-green-tomato concept courtesy of The Associated Press that uses plentiful ripe tomatoes, plus enough green tomatoes to soothe some of that angst we gardeners are feeling.
Tomato Confetti Fritters
1 quart vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 large red tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
2 large green tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
2 eggs, beaten
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large deep pot over medium-high, heat the oil to 320 F.
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, hot sauce and lemon juice. Set aside.
Drain any excess liquid from the tomatoes and transfer to a medium bowl. Combine tomatoes with the eggs, scallions, mint, parsley, cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper. Working in batches, drop mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil. Turn as needed until golden-brown and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain excess oil.
Serve with prepared mayonnaise. Makes 6 servings.