(Almost No Cooking) E.A.T. Late Summer Salad with Crowder Peas, Homegrown Tomatoes & Cucumbers

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 The so-called “dog days of summer” have gotten to me and when it comes to cooking I am giving in. Salads and variations-on-the-salad will be my mainstay for a bit. Cool foods that I can quickly and easily put together with ingredients  that are readily and locally available. I will make foods that do not require breaking a sweat.

This colander of fresh Crowder peas in where we start today. I quickly cooked them in a plastic bag in the microwave…no hot water steaming up the kitchen on this 90+ degree day,  then I rinsed them in cold water and let them drain for a bit.

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Hmmmm….homegrown tomatoes & cucumbers from the Duren-Kemp garden of earthly delights. (That’s my son-in-law and daughter’s garden.)

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A splash or two or three of this fab balsamic vinegar purchased down the street from Lazzaroli’s Pasta emporium.

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Easy as this Lemon Salt  & freshly ground black pepper added to taste… served with glass of chilled white wine and a baguette from Dozen’s Bakery.

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 A late summer, no oven or stove-top dinner, healthy & fresh, cool as a cucumber meal! Keep it simple, don’t work up a sweat with this “Crowder Pea, Homegrown Tomato & Cucumber Salad”. It’s another “E.A.T. ” (easy as this) meal brought to you from my little Food on Fifth kitchen.

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(Almost No Cooking) E.A.T. Late Summer Salad of Crowder Peas, Homegrown Tomatoes and Cucumbers

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: E.A.T. (Easy as This)
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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups fresh, shelled Crowder peas, lady peas or any other summer pea
  • 4 medium size home-grown tomatoes cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1-2 fresh smallish size cucumbers, peeled or unpeeled, sliced or cut into chunks
  • a good balsamic vinegar, as much as you like to coat
  • lemon salt & freshly ground black pepper (or just regular sea salt)

Directions:

  1. Rinse & drain peas & put in a zip-lock bag left slightly open. Cook in microwave for about 8 minutes on high. Dump into a colander and rinse with cool running water. Leave to drain for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl toss together the cooled peas, tomato chunks & cucumbers.
  3. Season with salt & black pepper. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar to taste. Serve at room temp or chilled. Delicious with a crusty baguette and, of course on a hot day, a glass of chilled white wine. Bon Appetite.

Teresa Blackburn   teresablackburnfoodstyling.com    foodonfifth.com

“September Tomatoes, Bacon & Spinach Pie with Thyme-Pepper Crust”

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The September tomatoes…the ripe red ones that hang on vines starting to droop, vines heavy with green tomatoes that will never see red…these ripe homegrowns are the sweetest of the season I think. They are summer’s last gift before it is all a memory.

wee tomato bird

What to do with the last few tomatoes just picked? A BLT…a jar of tomato sauce…a pie? Yes. I love to make pies.  A deep savory pie it will be.

A crust using fresh lemon thyme from my garden along with some freshly ground black peppercorns is where I will start.

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I am a fan of the springform pan for tarts & pies as well as for cake. A straight sided savory pie is just so beautiful.

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Thick sliced homegrown tomatoes salted and draining on paper towels before adding to the pie helps pull out some of the water before using. I do not want this pie to be too watery.

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The spinach & ricotta filling  is creamy enough to hold up the next layers.

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Filling topped with thick sliced toms and crispy, thick sliced bacon torn into pieces.

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Creamy spinach filling, salty-sweet September tomatoes & crispy bacon. Let’s eat! DSC_1955

September Tomatoes, Bacon & Spinach Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour with a pinch of salt added
  • 1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
  • a few tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 med homegrown tomatoes sliced thickly/or 1 large tomato & some cherry toms
  • 1 cup whole fat ricotta
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup fresh spinach steamed, drained & chopped
  • 4 slices thick bacon, cooked crispy & broken into pieces
  • sea salt & freshly ground black peppercorns

Directions:

  1. For crust put the flour, pinch of salt, thyme leaves & pepper in a food processor & pulse a few times. Add cold butter pieces, pulse a few more times until incorporated.
  2. With machine running drizzle in ice-cold water until a dough ball forms. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes before rolling out.
  3. In the meantime, place thickly sliced tomatoes on paper towels & sprinkle with some sea or kosher salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. This will pull some of the moisture out of the tomatoes. Right before adding to the pie pat dry again with dry paper towels.
  4. Preheat oven to 350. Roll chilled dough out on a floured board into a circle large enough to fit into & half-way up the sides of  a 9″ springform  pan.
  5. Spray pan bottom & sides with cooking spray. Fit dough into the pan bottom & half way up sides. Crimp and fold to make an even top edge. Set aside.
  6. In a mixing bowl whisk together the ricotta and eggs, 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper,  until fluffy. Stir in drained & chopped spinach. Mix well.
  7. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the bottom of the dough. Top with the ricotta-spinach mixture. Add tomato slices. Scatter the crispy bacon pieces over all.
  8.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until puffy & golden brown and center is set. Cover with a sheet of foil if the top starts getting too brown.  Let rest for 20 min. before cutting.

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“A Simple Sauce, Dave’s Tomatoes & an Ode by Pablo Neruda”

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My son-in-law, David,  has the magic touch when it comes to growing almost anything. He plants casually like a seasoned farmer. He does not fuss or worry, but accepts that things will grow, or not, depending on the weather. Tomatoes grow well for him in bad years, but this year, a good year, his plants are laden. He and my daughter, Whitney, are very generous with their bounty. See the big beauties above? Yep, those are David’s Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

 Vine ripened, just picked tomatoes. I am moved by their shapeliness, their innate lack of sameness and their color wheel of “reds, oranges & pinks”.

This is my favorite hot-summer, no-cook tomato sauce. It can only be made “right now” with just picked Summer tomatoes. Fresh, no fuss, quick and just plain good.

Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

You only need a few ingredients….Fresh homegrown tomatoes, a few basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, smashed garlic cloves, a good fruity olive oil, salt & pepper, a splash of red wine vinegar and just grated Parmesan cheese to scatter over the top.

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If you live in Nashville stop by Lazzaroli’s on 5th Avenue North in Historic Germantown. Tom has an amazing selection of olive oils. I picked up this bottle of Madonna Olive Oil especially for this dish. It’s amazing.

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Cook up some pasta al dente.

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Toss the sauce with the pasta, scatter Parmesan over the top…stay cool, eat well.

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 “Ode to Tomatoes” by Pablo Neruda

 …..at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth,
recurrent
and fertile
star,
displays
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.

 

No-Cook Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce for Pasta

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 2 Large or 4 smaller size vine-ripened Tomatoes, cored & chopped
  • a small handful of fresh Basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/3 cup good quality fruity olive oil
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
  • Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

 

  1. Add the chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, pine nuts & garlic to a mixing bowl
  2. Pour in olive oil & vinegar and toss well.
  3. Season with salt & pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
  4. Chill until ready to serve covered.
  5. Serve with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan, a crusty loaf to sop the juices on your plate and your favorite summer wine.

Notes: Unlike a cooked sauce, this is just a mouthful of summer. I have been making this for years and only eat it in the middle of tomato season. Some dishes have to wait for the right season to enjoy, such is this one.

Any homegrown tomatoes will work great. I used some of my baby tomatoes in this dish to add texture.  Probably 2 lbs of tomatoes would be good for this recipe for two servings. Just increase to feed more.

Homegrown Tomatoes & Bread, Roasted & Toasted Salad

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“Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
And that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes”

(“Homegrown Tomatoes” was written by Guy Clark, go to end of post for You Tube video)

That about says it all doesn’t it?
I remember the first time I ever heard Guy Clark sing this song and I was just thrilled…here was someone writing songs about real things that I knew about.  I am still sure to this day that I know lots more about tomatoes than love! Love and homegrown tomatoes which is something none of us can get to much of. Isn’t that the truth?
Middle Tennessee is having a bumper crop of tomatoes. My own little “gardenette” has lots of ‘maters on the vine…in all stages of ripeness. Here is a salad I tossed together last weekend with some of my wee homegrowns, lemon thyme, Genovese basil leaves just picked.

I cut the larger wee tomatoes in half and put them all on a baking sheet, drizzling good olive oil and sprinkling with crunchy sea salt.

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As an afterthought I added a few garlic cloves & some thyme sprigs.

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20 minutes or so of roasting at 400 degrees F does the trick. The tomatoes become slightly browned and collapse somewhat. The garlic is mashably soft. Into a bowl they go.

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I cut the dried baguette into large chunks & placed it on the same roasting pan with the leftover garlic & thyme pieces. Pop this back into the oven for a few minutes to crisp. I let the bread cool slightly before tossing in the bowl with the tomatoes. This salad is best made ahead to let the bread soak up some of the juice and chilled or served at room temperature.

Roasted Tomato & Bread Salad

The evening we ate this salad for supper it was 93 degrees here in Nashville.

This simple tomato and bread salad, sometimes referred to as a Panzanella salad, served with a bottle of crisp, cold wine had the needed cooling effect. This heat we have been having is “nothin’ a homegrown tomato won’t cure”.

Panzanella Salad

Homegrown Tomatoes & Crispy Bread Salad

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of homegrown tomatoes, small or large cut into smaller pieces
  • fresh thyme & basil leaves
  • 3 cloves peeled garlic
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • good quality olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • freshly grated Parmesan Cheese for finishing off
  • additional basil leaves for garnish
  • “Old” Bread…baguettes work great, cut into cubes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Scatter tomatoes on a baking sheet, add garlic cloves & thyme sprigs.
  3. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Dust with sea salt & black pepper.
  4. Put pan in hot oven & roast tomatoes for about 20 minutes or until they just begin to char & collapse. Remove from oven & scrape tomatoes & juices into a bowl.
  5. Add red wine vinegar & about 1/2 cup torn basil leaves into the bowl & toss well.
  6. Add bread cubes to the same baking pan, toss bread in any leftover oil. Bake for about 5 minutes to crisp. Remove from oven. Let cool.
  7. Add cooled bread to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes & basil. At this point you can serve at room temp or pop in the refrigerator to chill for later.
  8. To serve add a generous portion of freshly grated parmesan cheese & more torn pieces of basil and a glass of cold, crisp white wine!

recipe and photos by Teresa Blackburn      foodonfifth.com    teresablackburnfoodstyling.com  

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Click on the below link for Guy Clark singing “Homegrown Tomatoes”.