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Chloe's Farmhouse Tomato Sandwich
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Chloe's Farmhouse Tomato Sandwich

Fresh local produce is a hit

By Jane Hudson

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One of the joys of spring and summer is locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs — and, luckily, you don’t have to have a green thumb to enjoy produce grown in eastern North Carolina. Visit a farmers’ market, a roadside stand or a local farm and you’ll find the best seasonal selections at their peak of freshness. June is a great time to check out what’s available — including some things you may have never tried before!

To spark your appetite, here are some vegetable and fruit recipes from two great local cooks — Greenville native and Her... magazine food columnist Kelsey Luvender who writes the Strawberrymint food blog and Chloe Tuttle, award-winning proprietor of Williamston’s Big Mill Bed and Breakfast and a recipe contributor to national innkeeper blogs.


— Jane Hudson

 

“There are many versions of this classic sandwich, but the down-home plain and simple sandwich made with white bread and Duke’s mayonnaise is the award winner,” Chole says. For the full story about the Farmhouse Tomato Sandwich, visit her blog at http://chloesblog.bigmill.com/farmhouse-tomato-sandwich-the-mayonnaise-debate/

Chloe’s Farmhouse Tomato Sandwich

1 medium size ripe, homegrown, tomato

2 slices bread (The bread of my youth like Wonder Bread works great. I really do like Pepperidge Farm Oat Bread now.)

2 tablespoons Duke’s Mayonnaise (All southerners know Duke’s is the best)

Salt and pepper

Wash and cut the tomato into thick slices. Spread the mayonnaise onto both slices of the bread, one side only. Make sure to spread the mayonnaise to the edge of each slice of bread. Place the tomato slices on one piece of bread. Add salt and pepper. Cover with the second slice of bread, mayonnaise side down, of course. Cut the sandwich into two pieces and enjoy the best tomato sandwich ever. How to cut the sandwich is also debatable. Serves 1.

“This is probably my favorite recipe on my blog,” Kelsey said. “I didn’t think I’d like this side, especially since I assumed I hated fennel. Fennel is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb with a taste similar to black licorice. I really don’t enjoy licorice and never really have, hence I assumed fennel would be on my list of least favorites, Boy, was I wrong. One taste of this salad and my palate would never be the same.

“The sweet and buttery taste of the fennel combined with the tart crispness of the apples is truly a match made in heaven. This dish is extremely refreshing and light — perfect for a hot summer day.”

Fennel Apple Salad

1 bulb fresh fennel

2 large Granny Smith apples

Juice from ½ lemon

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1-2 tablespoons leaves from the fennel stalk

Cut the bulb of fennel in half lengthwise and thinly slice half-moons throughout the entire white part of the bulb. (If you have a kitchen mandolin, this would be a great time to use it. If you don’t, you’ll want to use a very sharp knife to “shave” the pieces so that they are almost translucent. The thinner the better!) Peel the apples and slice them in half, removing the core. Like the fennel, slice the apple as thin as you can. Transfer both the fennel and the apple slices into a serving bowl and toss with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix in the oil, salt and sugar. Take about a tablespoon or two of the feathery leaves off the green fennel stalks and coarsely chop them with just a quick run-through of the knife. Toss those in with the rest of the salad.

Take advantage of all the cucumbers grown in eastern North Carolina by creating a simple, cool salad. Chloe says this recipe works great with pickling cucumbers and the long green burpless or English cucumbers.

Cucumber & Vidalia Onion Salad

1½ pounds small cucumbers (or 1 long English cucumber)

Bowl of ice water

1 small sweet onion, like Vidalia

½ cup sour cream

¾ cup white vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

Salt and pepper

Wash the cucumbers and slice into ¼-inch rounds. If the skins are tough, peel. Soak the cucumber slices in a bowl of ice cubes and water until you are ready to serve. Peel the onion and slice into thin rings. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar and sugar. Set aside. This can be done ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Just before serving, drain the cucumbers. Place cucumbers and onions in a serving bowl. Toss to mix. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and onions and stir. Do not totally cover the cucumbers with the dressing, cucumbers and onions should not be floating. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4. Note: if this salad is too tart, add more sugar or a few ice cubes.

“I adore these zucchini fries and was pleasantly surprised with my love for them over the classic potato french fry,” Kelsey said. “I even dipped mine in ketchup and it was DELICIOUS! I can’t wait to make some fun dipping sauces for these babies in the future — I’m thinking mango, barbecue or even a creamy ranch.

“Zucchini is an extremely beneficial food that is very low in calories and high in dietary fiber. Eating zucchini has also proven to decrease and curb the instances of overeating. The manganese in this vegetable is also responsible for giving you beautifully healthy skin and proper wound healing. A serving of these baked zucchini fries will only add about 90 calories to your daily intake, about half a gram of fat and only 17 carbohydrates.”

Baked Zucchini Fries

Non-stick cooking spray

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1½ teaspoons all-purpose flour (unbleached)

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ cup dried plain panko bread crumbs

2 medium raw zucchini

2 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with a generous coating of non-stick cooking spray. In a shallow dish, mix together the Italian seasoning, flour and salt. Place the bread crumbs in a separate shallow dish. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they turn white in color and form soft peaks. Slice each zucchini lengthwise and then in half. With the skin on, slice each half into pieces that are approximately the size of thick-cut french fries. Lightly coat each piece of zucchini in the flour mixture, and then dip in the egg whites. Lastly, coat each piece with bread crumbs and place on your prepared baking sheet. (I lined my baking sheet with tin-foil and then sprayed the foil with cooking spray in order to make clean-up a bit easier for me. Foil or no foil, just be sure to spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking.) Bake fries for 12 minutes, turning them over one time at 6 minutes. When turning, be careful not to knock off too much of the breading. (I used a fork to turn my zucchini and it worked like a charm.

“French toast is not only a delicacy to be enjoyed first thing in the morning,” Kelsey says. “It is so versatile, with the bread basically acting as a sponge to any flavor that you wish to infuse. If you can dream it, you can do it with french toast. Pick your bread, your flavor, your topping, and voilà, out comes a masterpiece!”

Savory Tomato Basil French Toast

2 slices sourdough boule, about an inch in width

2 eggs

½ cup skim milk

¼ teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup Gruyere cheese, shredded

2-3 tablespoons prepared pesto

3-4 slices vine ripe tomatoes

3-4 large fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Whisk together the eggs, milk, Worchestershire, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper in a shallow baking dish until the mixture is evenly combined. Set the bread slices in the egg mixture and let them soak on each side for approximately 3-4 minutes. While the bread is soaking, drizzle olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Transfer the bread slices into the pan and top with half of the cheese. Press the cheese lightly into the bread and slip to cook the other side after 1-2 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Turn once more to brown the cheese. Once each side is golden brown and firm to the touch, remove from heat. Smear one side of the french toast with pesto. Top with a layer of sliced tomatoes, ribbons of basil and lemon zest. Serve with cracked black pepper, if desired.

 

Pitt County farm markets:

Briley’s Farm Market, 5290 Old Pactolus Road, Greenville, 754-5029;

Brock’s Berries, 978 Laurie Ellis Road, 321-2197;

Pitt County Farmers’ Market, 4560 County Home Road, 355-7612;

Strawberries on 903, 4084 N.C. 903 South, Winterville, 321-3204;

Uptown Greenville Umbrella Market, weekly from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesdays May through September, 301 S. Evans St., 561-8400

Bless your heart
Bless your heart