'Tis the time for tomatoes. I used to think there were two kinds of tomatoes -- big & small. At last year's Heirloom TomatoFest I learned that there are a bunch of different tomatoes, and a lot of them are ugly. We like the ugly ones. This year the TomatoFest moved from the farm to the market and I learned my new favorite way to use them.
|2013 Heirloom TomatoFest @ Community Farmers Market BG.|
That's like twenty different varieties of tomato. Who knew?
Chef Josh from Home Cafe was manning the Chef's Table during TomatoFest and I'm
Grilled Portabellas and Tomatoes
|Tomatoes, Honey, Olive Oil, and Red Wine Vinegar.|
These tomatoes all came out of our CSA basket from Need More Acres. The little ones are a combination of Black Cherry and Snow Whites and they are so tasty that they don't really need to be grilled and marinated (I ate half the bag on the way home), but they're gonna be anyway.
Cut the big tomatoes into thick slices and cut the little guys in half. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Oh, and mix up your marinade. Josh says you can use sugar instead of honey, but we've just used honey. You'll want to whisk it up again right before you add the tomatoes because it does tend to settle in layers.
Grill 'em. This grill was at medium-low heat on purpose because I thought the little tomatoes would be hard to handle. They weren't, and a hotter grill is preferable. We don't grill the tomatoes for long -- once they have some nice grill marks they're ready for the marinade.
|Grilled Tomatoes in the Marinade.|
They absorb flavor pretty quick, so they don't need to soak for long. They bathed for about ten minutes here while the mushrooms finished grilling.
|Grilled Portabellos w/ Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Basil.|
|Grilled & Marinated Tomato w/ Iced Cream, Balsamic Vinegar, and Basil.|
The dessert idea was also stolen from Josh. At the market he served the tomatoes with goat cheese iced cream from Meltdown and a grilled corn/berry/pepper relish that added some texture and heat to the sweetness. Being less ambitious I just went with sweet on top of sweet. I'm not typically a dessert guy, but this was awesome.
[Speaking of iced cream, you never know what Susan is going to bring to the market. She comes up with some pretty interesting flavors -- the first one I brought home was made with beets and the kids loved it (I didn't tell them what it was). This one was Goat Cheese Iced Cream w/ Heirloom Tomato & Peach Sauce, and not surprisingly it went well with these tomatoes and with peaches.]
Grilled Chicken Bruschetta
We had to wait for another CSA basket to do this one and it was worth the wait. I cut the smaller tomatoes smaller this time and grilled them on a plank to make them easier to handle. Turned out to be a great idea...
|A medium-hot grill is definitely better for the tomatoes.|
|Planking in the rain...|
|Grilled Chicken Bruschetta w/ Grilled Okra & Tomato Wedges.|
After marinating the tomatoes in the same oil/vinegar/honey combination, we added some chopped garlic and basil to make a quick bruschetta. The chicken was marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette and topped with provolone on the grill.
|Same dessert; better picture.|
Grilled Chicken & Bruschetta Pasta
|Uh... the plank is preheated.|
When plank grilling, you want to preheat the plank to get it smoking. You don't want to forget about the plank you are preheating. Fortunately, we have plenty of planks.
|Grilled Chicken with Planked Tomatoes & Garlic.|
This time we cooked and marinated the garlic along with the tomatoes before adding the basil and tossing it on some angel hair pasta. Pretty pretty simple. Pretty pretty tasty, too.
|Grilled Chicken & Bruschetta Pasta.|
Porterhouse Steak w/ Grilled & Marinated Caprese Salad
|First middle school scrimmage.|
#5 and team got a W in their first seventh-grade scrimmage, so a big steak is in order. OK, fine... he would have got a big steak even if they didn't win.
|Farmers Market replenishment.|
We've been going through honey and the CSA tomatoes too fast, but that's nothing a quick trip to the market can't fix. I stocked up on Hillbilly Grillers honey and Sunny Point Gardens basil & tomatoes (Rosalita, Snow White, and Sunsugar Hybrids). I also picked up some mozzarella from Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese and ran over to Rian's for a big ole steak.
|Yeah, I burnt another plank...|
This time we used balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. It worked out well, and after a few minutes of marinating we just added some basil and shredded mozzarella. Easy peasy. I tried to trick my assistant into taking the bigger strip side of the steak, but he's smarter than that and he snagged the fillet...
|Porterhouse with Grilled & Marinated Caprese Salad (of sorts).|
Grilled Caprese Burgers
This is probably the simplest one so far using more Need More Acres tomatoes and cheese from Kenny's, some Dolan Farms ground beef, and basil from the neighbor's garden. Just put 'em all together on a bun and it's done...
|Grilled tomatoes marinating in Balsamic Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, and Honey.|
The double vinegar thing was a mistake, but it was delicious.
|Grilled Caprese Burgers.|
After mentioning that I needed better hamburger buns, my friend Gabe from Esters Farm Baked Goods brought some samples to the farmers market. Time to try again...
|Proper marinade this time.|
|Grilled Caprese Burger... w/ better buns!|
SummarySo, that's the idea. It's fun. I think the only way to mess up is to overcook the tomatoes on the grill -- the big tomatoes are harder to work with and I did lose a couple slices on the first attempt. I suggest having a well-oiled grill grate and a hot fire. Don't cut the tomato slices too thin, and use a spatula instead of tongs. For the small 'maters, tongs and/or a plank.
It seems kinda silly to try adding flavor to already flavorful tomatoes, but I'll keep doing it! And if I ever fire up the pizza oven again, I have a feeling these guys will end up on a dessert pizza or two...
|The obligatory motorcycle or Corvette pic that has nothing to do with nothing.|
KTM Super Duke R on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.