Summer is here, and with all those hot, languid afternoons come the cookouts. As my Gentle Readers will remember, I live for summer and delegating the cooking responsibilities to Mr. Friday, who actually enjoys standing outside on the back porch, in 90-degree weather, hovering over a hot gas grill, tenderly flipping burgers, adjusting ears of corn, and prodding susurrus steaks. It is a fine seasonal division of labor.
I get to stay inside, enjoying cool air and cooler wine. I do my outdoor bit first thing in the morning. After I walk Luke the wonder dog for half an hour, I spray all exposed wobbly flesh with insect repellent, and then I charge out into the mosquito-infested side yard to water and weed the raised garden bed. And I harvest the crops.
This small garden has been our first proper vegetable garden in years. We had been getting by with container gardens of spindly tomatoes and etiolated bean plants. This year we are jokingly worried that Jack’s beanstalk will be tapping on the kitchen window soon, as the bean plants have grown up and out and soon we will find a magic goose in the back yard, pecking around with the robins. And yet – we have only harvested five measly beans. There must be more to this gardening than just planting seeds and rigging up strings for the beans to climb. We might have to analyze the soil, and consider when we should have planted the beans. In the meantime, though, the tomato plants are going to town.
We have been enjoying a surfeit of tomatoes: heirloom tomatoes, patio tomatoes, Tom’s Big Boy tomatoes. There are a dozen ripening tomatoes lining one of the kitchen windowsills right now. This is the second dozen that I have picked this week. It is probably just as well that we didn’t plant zucchini this year, or we would have been reduced to even more of a suburban stereotype than we already are. I guess this means I am finally going to have to introduce myself to the new neighbors, and hope that they like tomatoes.
Consequently I have had to do research and find more to do with tomatoes. I can’t just quarter them and throw them on top of a bed of crunchy iceberg. Luckily I can reduce our considerable tomato inventory if I make something large enough to share at a Fourth of July cookout. I have been pouring over this handy dandy cookbook,The Southerner’s Cookbook, from Garden & Gun Magazine. I love the folks at Food52, but the clever cooks from G&G indulge in gracious living. At least in the summer. (This is a killer cocktail: https://gardenandgun.com/slideshow/summer-south-20-must-try-recipes/7/)
If you, too, have tomato overload, try this recipe. It was divine. Even if I did have to steam an ear of corn, and cook two pieces of bacon. I always need something to complain about…
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Green Goddess Buttermilk Dressing
6 ripe garden tomatoes, sliced inch thick
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
Kernels from 1 cooked ear Silver Queen corn
2 thick bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives
Green Goddess Buttermilk Dressing
(MAKES ABOUT ¾ CUP)
1/3 cup whole buttermilk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
For the Heirloom Tomato Salad: Arrange the tomato and cucumber slices artfully on a platter. Drizzle with half of the dressing. Sprinkle with the corn kernels and bacon. Garnish with the chives. Serve with extra dressing on the side. (Any remaining dressing will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.)
For the Green Goddess Buttermilk Dressing: Combine the buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, chives, dill, and tarragon in a blender. Blend until smooth.
“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”
– Lewis Grizzard