Sleep late on a weekend morning? Not me. I would rather grab my cloth totes and head to the farmers market. Here in Aspen, it’s the place to be on Saturday mornings. Sprawled out over five city blocks, the market bustles with a friendly, homespun vibe. Farmers, artisans, locals and tourists mingle cheerfully, trading glorious summer fruits and vegetables, cheeses, chutneys, crafts, and everything in between.
Last weekend, I brought along my friend Lisa Petrillo, an entertainment reporter for CBS in Miami. We perused the stalls together, chatted up the vendors, bought raw goat milk brie and kettle popcorn. But Lisa had more than a shopping trip in mind. She was cooking up a story about something bigger, about a national phenomenon that some have even referred to as a grassroots food revolution.
Cultivating this movement towards a more local, personal food supply are more than 6,000 farmers markets that have sprung up around the country. They are bringing together communities of people who not only care about good food, they also care about each other.
I came up with this recipe after spotting some crimson beauties at one of the local stands. Sliced, breaded, and fried like onion rings, they were some of the tastiest, most addictive tomatoes I’ve had all summer. You can see where I got my inspiration on CBS’ website. Or better yet, you can get up early this weekend and catch the best of summer while it’s fresh.
1 cup grapeseed oil, for frying
4 large firm red or green tomatoes
Kosher salt and white sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup whole wheat or brown rice flour
3/4 cup whole-grain cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. In a medium (10-inch) cast-iron or heavy skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame until a small amount of flour sizzles quickly.
2. While you are waiting for the oil to get hot, slice off the stem ends of the tomatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch thick slices. Season lightly with salt and sugar and allow the tomatoes to drain on paper towels for 10 minutes.
3. Place the flour in a shallow bowl or plate. Pour the buttermilk into a shallow bowl, and in another shallow bowl, combine the cornmeal, Creole Seasoning and black pepper. This will be your breading station.
4. Lightly coat the tomato slices in flour, shaking off excess. Next, dip the floured slices into the buttermilk. Finally, dredge the slices in the cornmeal mixture, coating them completely and shaking off the excess.
5. When the oil is hot, cook a few tomato slices at a time, spreading them apart so that they do not touch each other in the pan. When the bottoms are crisp and golden (about 2 minutes), flip the tomatoes and cook until the other sides are golden. Remove to paper towels and continue frying the remaining tomatoes, allowing the oil to come back to proper temperature before adding more. Serve immediately, with Buttermilk Basil Caper Dressing (recipe below) on the side.
Buttermilk Basil Caper Dressing
(Makes about 1-1/4 cups)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil mayonnaise
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
A good pinch of Kosher salt and several grinds of black pepper
In a glass jar, shake together all the ingredients until blended.
Looking for more tomato recipes? You won’t want to miss out on these! Avocado Tomato Egg Salad Sandwich; Tomato Mozzarella Tower; Sweet and Spicy Tomato Chutney; Tomato Cheddar Salad with Yogurt Dressing; and Fresh Tomato Basil Porcini Risotto.
The August Cooking Contest has begun. Enter your favorite tomato recipe for a chance to win some excellent prizes!
Photo credit: tastespotting.com