• Tommy Centola

Putting a twist on tomatoes

My regular readers know of my love for the Main Street Searcy Farmer’s Market. Every Saturday morning, the freshest produce to be found is here. I enjoy my regular trips to see the farmers and get inspiration for future articles and dishes. Today’s recipes are a great example.

On my recent trip, I found some wonderful tomatoes, both the red and green variety. The wheels in my head started turning. I wanted to to use them in ways I normally don’t. Here are two different recipes, one that uses the green variety, Fried Green Tomatoes with Crabmeat Remoulade, and the red, Tomato and White Bean Salad. They are both a twist on traditional recipes. I hope you enjoy them. Let’s head to the kitchen!

Fried Green Tomatoes is a southern staple. This recipe gives it a New Orleans twist by topping the tomatoes with a crabmeat remoulade. It’s an excellent way to start a meal. The remoulade is also great on top of a salad.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Crabmeat Remoulade

Remoulade

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Creole mustard

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup onions, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped, green parts only

Creole seasoning and hot sauce, to taste

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked through for shells

Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, onions, parsley's and green onions in a bowl and stir to blend. Season with Creole seasoning and hot sauce. Add the crabmeat and gently toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate.

Tomatoes

2 pounds green tomatoes, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices

Creole seasoning, to taste

3/4 cups canola oil for deep-frying

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 cups baby salad greens

Season the tomato slices with Creole seasoning. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Put the flour in a shallow bowl and the cornmeal in another shallow bowl. Combine the buttermilk and eggs in another bowl. Dredge the tomatoes first in the flour, coating evenly on both sides, and shaking off the excess flour.

Then dip them in the egg wash, coating evenly. Dredge in cornmeal. Add the tomatoes, 3 to 4 at a time, to the hot oil and fry until golden brown about 2 minutes on each side.

Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining tomatoes. To assemble, arrange equal amounts of the greens in the center of 6 salad plates. Top with fried green tomatoes and the crabmeat mixture. Serve immediately.

Here’s a stuffed tomato dish that is sure to please your diners. It’s a great addition to any cookout or picnic. The stuffing is best made the day before serving, allowing the flavors to marry together.

Tomato and White Bean Salad

1 can (19 ounce) navy beans

1/2 cup ham, minced

1/2 cup onions, minced

1/2 cup celery, minced

1/4 cup red bell pepper, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Creole seasoning to taste

Hot sauce to taste

6 small tomatoes

Drain and rinse beans well. In a large mixing bowl, blend together beans, ham, onions, celery, bell pepper, parsley, garlic and thyme. Mix in olive oil and vinegar. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Cover and refrigerate a minimum of 6 hours.

Approximately 2 hours before serving, remove bean mixture from refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature, stirring occasionally. When ready to serve, cut top off each tomato. Using a teaspoon, scoop out pulp, removing as many seeds as possible. Mince pulp and stir thoroughly into bean mixture. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Lightly season inside of tomatoes with salt and pepper. Carefully spoon salad mixture evenly into tomatoes.

Of course, you can use store bought tomatoes in these recipes. In my opinion, store bought will never taste as good as straight from the farm. It’s also a great way to support local businesses. The country would be in dire straits without the American farmer. Buy Fresh! Buy Local!

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