Fried Green Tomatoes With Green Olive Gremolata
These are inspired by the fried green tomatoes which traditionally feature the ‘Southern’ American flavours of cayenne pepper, dried thyme and sweet paprika. I’ve substituted Italian herbs and served them alongside a bright, zingy gremolata made more substantial with the addition of green olives.
Serves 8 as a canapé
Preparation 15 minutes
Cooking 10 minutes
vegetable oil for deep-frying
50 g (1/3 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
75 g (1/2 cup) polenta
80 ml (1/3 cup) sparkling water
2 tablespoons sparkling chambourcin, shiraz or other sparkling red wine
1 egg white
1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
1 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
500 g cherry tomatoes (preferably greenish with a tinge of red)
salt to taste
Green olive gremolata
90 g (1/2 cup) green olives, pitted and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 For the green olive gremolata, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
2 Pour the oil into a medium saucepan to a depth of 6 cm and heat over medium heat.
3 Combine the plain flour, polenta, sparkling water, sparkling wine, egg white, oregano, basil, sweet paprika and chilli flakes in a small bowl and whisk until smooth to make a batter.
4 Test the oil by dropping in a small amount of batter – it is ready to cook when the batter turns golden and crisp. Skewer the tomatoes, dip into the batter and, using another skewer, slide into the hot oil. Fry in batches for 2 minutes or until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately on a platter scattered with the green olive gremolata.
Lyndey’s note: I used sparkling chambourcin because it is a local Port Macquarie wine, but if you don’t want to specially open a bottle, simply increase the quantity of sparkling water by 2 tablespoons.
Wine: These flavours are high acid, naturally paired with sparkling chambourcin but any sparkling wine with low sugar has the added benefit of bubbles, to cleanse the palate of these deep-fried morsels.
Spiced sweet tomatoes
Tomatoes are incredibly versatile and, although mostly used as a vegetable, work really well as a fruit, which is indeed what they are. These flavours make for an unusual and stunning dessert. It’s an evolution of a recipe I developed for a previous book, but I used strawberries, which Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries in Port Macquarie grow.
Preparation 5 minutes
Cooking 15 minutes
4 ripe but firm tomatoes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
thick Greek-style yoghurt for serving
165 g strawberries, washed, hulled and finely diced
6 mint leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (see syrup below)
190 ml (3/4 cup) orange juice
145 g (2/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
1 orange, zest and juice (less 1 teaspoon zest used in the filling)
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 star anise
1 To make the syrup, place all the ingredients in a large saucepan or medium frying pan with high sides (big enough to hold the four tomatoes) and boil for 5 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, cut a slice from the stalk end of each tomato and discard. Scoop out the tomato pulp, leaving the tomato shell. Combine the filling ingredients and stuff each tomato with it.
3 Place the tomatoes in the saucepan with the syrup and cook over medium–high heat for 10 minutes, basting frequently. When the tomatoes are candied, drizzle them with lemon juice and cook for a further minute. Remove with a slotted spoon. Serve warm or cold, topped with orange zest from the syrup and yoghurt.
Lyndey’s note: If desired, when the tomatoes are cooked, remove them from the saucepan with a slotted spoon, increase the heat and reduce the syrup till thick before drizzling over the tomatoes to serve.
Wine: Semillon has a natural affinity with tomatoes and, as this is sweet, a botrytised semillon will be perfect.
Tomato salad with herb dressing
For this simple salad I used different tomatoes from Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries in Port Macquarie including roma (plum), conchita and flavorino in a variety of colours from green through to rich red. The recipe’s success depends on naturally ripe tomatoes. Heirloom varieties work well, too.
Preparation 10 minutes
1 kg assorted tomatoes
1/2 bunch chives, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch mint, leaves picked
1/2 bunch basil, leaves picked
sea salt flakes
1 loaf sourdough, sliced
Slice the tomatoes into large chunks or leave them whole if small and place in a serving bowl.
Place the chives, mint and basil in a mortar and pestle and sprinkle generously with sea salt flakes. Pound to grind the herbs and salt into a smooth paste. Spoon over the tomatoes and serve with the sourdough bread.
Wine: Most likely you will be eating this with a main course, so stick to the wine which suits that. If, however, this is the main event, you can’t go past a semillon or a chambourcin, which is the red grape variety that flourishes in the Port Macquarie area.
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