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Table Talk: Not-so-fried green tomatoes

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A weekly blog about everything from farming food to cooking it.

With tomato and potato crops being hit right and left by late blight, the usual abundance of these late summer days has taken a hit. Even though the end of summer has brought some drier weather (knock on wood), the disease is still affecting tomato and potato plants in the area.

This summer my housemate has a half share in the CSA at Popoma Farm, in Whiting, and since she’s out of town, I got to pick up the fresh veggies last week. Besides sweet corn, squash, beans, peppers, cabbage and basil, I took home a pound of potatoes, one red tomato, one ripening tomato and six green tomatoes.

Popoma Farm owner Karen LeRoy explained that some of the tomato plants were still alive because of the recent dry spell, but many were infected with the fungus, and they’d had to pull them out of the ground and mow down the affected areas.

As I picked out vegetables, ideas floated through my head: the corn, well, that would be simple — and delicious — cooked on the cob. For the basil, I had garlic, pine nuts, romano cheese and oil just waiting to be crushed into pesto. I would probably have eaten the beans raw by the time I got back to Middlebury. And the squash, well, there were endless possibilities.

But green tomatoes? We’d used last week’s share to make fried green tomatoes, but apart from that, I’ve pretty much been off fried foods ever since the fried Reese’s Cup I ate at Field Days. Naturally, then, I was looking for some healthier use for the tomatoes.

LeRoy writes a newsletter to go with each week’s share in which she comments on what is coming into season, what is going out and what is in the share that week. Luckily, this week’s newsletter included six or seven recipes for green tomatoes, and she had a box of Wheat Thins for sampling the green tomato salsa that she had made.


Cooking the salsa

Inspired, I looked at a couple of general salsa recipes and pulled out all of the ingredients in my refrigerator that seemed remotely salsa-ish. What I came up with was a light, slightly spicy salsa which my dad (who was visiting) and I ate over eggs for breakfast the next morning, a quick breath of summer in the cool, cloudy light of the morning.

Still, I had three more green tomatoes and no idea what to do with them.

In turning back to the newsletter’s list of recipes, the green tomato bread caught my eye. Judging from the sugar and vanilla, it was sweet — the ingredients were similar to my banana bread recipe. I couldn’t imagine this, so I had to try it. I tossed in some pecans and, even though I’d accidentally put in too much oil, came out with a light, moist bread with a hint of citrus. When I brought a loaf to the office, much of it vanished before lunch.

So whether you like fried, fresh or sweet foods, if you find yourself with an unexpected batch of green tomatoes any time soon, don’t panic — the following recipes are easy and delicious.


Enjoy!

Green tomato salsa

  • 2-3 green tomatoes
  • 1 red or ripening tomato
  • 1 ear of corn
  • 1 large hot pepper (more or less, depending on the spiciness you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • Salt
  • Lemon or lime juice to taste

Boil the corn until softened, then cut off of the cob. chop tomatoes, pepper, garlic and onion and toss with the corn; add cider vinegar, salt and lemon or lime juice. Place in saucepan and cook over very low heat (this is important: the vegetables should be softer but stay fresh-tasting) until the tomato skins begin to peel off. Serve chilled over eggs or with tortilla chips.

Green tomato bread
  Originally from www.joyinthegarden.com/green.html
  Makes 2 loaves

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cup green tomato puree (three medium tomatoes should do it, but if not, add a little water)
  • 1 Tblsp vanilla
  • 3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts pecans (optional)
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Mix eggs, oil, and sugar. Add green tomato puree and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together and add to other ingredients. Add nuts and/or raisins if desired. Grease and flour two 9x5 loaf pans. Divide batter evenly and pour into pans. Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes.

EDIT: I left out the baking powder from the tomato bread recipe! It is updated now.

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