As I sit here and write this column, it’s a hot and muggy June afternoon, 10 days before the official start of summertime. The world is full of unrest, and we’re in the middle of a national pandemic. My heart has been heavy over the last few weeks and my prayer is that the Lord would heal our land to bring racial reconciliation and peace where so many are hurting.
The good news is, there’s walnut chocolate chip banana bread baking in my oven and my kitchen countertop sits full of juicy, red vine-ripened tomatoes fresh from my garden. During trying times like these, we must focus on the things we can control, and I believe cooking helps.
I’ve been so pleased with how my garden has produced already this year — fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley and mint have blossomed abundantly. In addition to these fresh herbs, I also grow Better Bush and cherry tomatoes, bell and jalapeno peppers. I had so many red cherry tomatoes the other day, I decided to place them in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. I skewered them and grilled them until they were charred on my indoor grill pan. They were delicious by themselves as a snack, but I tossed them in a bowtie pasta salad with chicken for a scrumptious lunch.
Whether you grow your own tomatoes or pick up a basketful at the farmers’ market or a roadside stand, I’ll share five Some Kinda Good ways you can use them up, and I encourage you to visit SomeKindaGood.com for these complete recipes.
1) Charred Garden Salsa — Charring the vegetables adds an earthy depth of flavor and lime juice, plus zest, wakes everything up.
2) Homemade Spaghetti Sauce — Fresh garlic and onion are the flavor foundations here, but tomatoes are the star ingredient. Finish with fresh basil and toss with cooked spaghetti or spread on store bought pizza dough for homemade flavor you just can’t get from a jar.
3) Farmers’ Market Bruschetta — This is one of the best recipes from my best selling memoir, Some Kinda Good, and my go-to appetizer for friends and family.
4) Tomato Sandwich with Herb Butter — Toasted bread, softened herb butter and seasoned tomatoes make for a homegrown tomato sandwich like no other.
5) Panzanella — Panzanella is an Italian bread and tomato salad made with day old bread. Add cucumbers, red onion or peppers, and drizzle with olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
I can’t think of too many things that say summertime in the South than a delicious homegrown tomato. Try these recipes and be sure to send me a note on social media to let me know you did. Stay cool and hydrated, y’all!
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in-season. Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.