Hot and Hot Tomato Salad

Recipe courtesy Chef Chris Hastings  

We always look for a variety of locally grown, heirloom tomatoes at our farmers' market. If heirlooms are not available, we opt for ripe red tomatoes that are grown locally. The whole baby okra make for a beautiful presentation but if it is unavailable substitute the larger sized okra and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces before breading and frying.

6 large beefsteak tomatoes
2 large golden delight tomatoes
2 large rainbow tomatoes
1/2 pint sweet 100 tomatoes (tiny current tomatoes can be substituted) 
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows), divided
11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 smoked ham hock
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 fresh thyme sprig
6 ounces (1 cup)fresh field peas such as black-eye, pink-eye, crowder, or butter beans
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 ears of yellow corn, husked 
6 slices Applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crisp
3/4 cup Chive Dressing (recipe follows)
6 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh basil

4 cups vegetable oil
30 pieces whole baby okra
1/4 cup whole-milk buttermilk
1/4 cup corn flour
1/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
To Prepare the Salad:
Core and slice the beefsteak, golden delight, and rainbow tomatoes into 1/4 -inch thick slices. Toss the tomatoes with 3/4 cup of the vinaigrette. Season the tomatoes with the salt and pepper and set aside at room temperature to marinate until ready to serve. 
Combine the ham hock, onion, thyme, and field peas in a medium stock pot with enough cold water to cover the beans. Bring the peas to a simmer and cook until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, drain, and cool. Remove and discard the ham hock, onion quarters, and thyme sprig. Place the cooled peas in a mixing bowl and set aside. 
Shave the kernels off the corn cobs, discarding the silk hairs. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Season the corn with salt and pepper to taste, and remove from the heat and cool slightly. Toss the corn kernels with the cooked field peas and the remaining 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Set the pea mixture aside to marinate at room temperature until ready to serve. 
To Prepare the Okra:
Pour the vegetable oil into a deep-sided skillet to a depth of 3-inches. (Alternately, a deep fryer can be filled with vegetable oil.) Preheat the oil to 350˚F.
Trim the okra stems and place okra pods in a small bowl with the buttermilk. Toss until well coated. 
Combine the corn flour, cornmeal, all-purpose flour, salt, and pepper in medium size bowl. Drain the okra from the buttermilk and toss in the cornmeal mixture. Shake off any excess cornmeal mixture. Place the okra in the preheated vegetable oil and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden. Remove okra from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Season the okra with the remaining salt and pepper, if needed. Keep warm until ready to serve.
To Serve:
Arrange each of the different types of sliced tomatoes on 6 plates. Place the whole sweet 100 tomatoes around the sliced tomatoes. Divide the pea and corn mixture evenly among plates on top of the tomatoes. Arrange 5 pieces of Fried Okra around each plate and place 1 slice of crispy bacon on the top of each salad. Drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of the chive dressing over the tops of each salad and garnish each with 1 tablespoon of basil chiffonade. Serve immediately.
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes 2 cups
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together all of the ingredients in a large bowl. The vinaigrette can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Be sure to bring the chilled vinaigrette to room temperature and whisk well before serving.
Chive Dressing
Because of the slight risk of salmonella, raw eggs should not be served to the very young, the ill or elderly, or to pregnant women. If you are concerned about this, try adding 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives, and a pinch of salt and pepper to a good quality, store-bought mayonnaise. Makes about 11/4 cups.
1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup crème fraiche 
Combine the garlic and chives in small bowl. Add egg yolk, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream, while whisking vigorously whisking. This should create an emulsion. Whisk in the crème fraiche. You may need to add a drop or two of water if dressing is too thick. Cover and chill the dressing for at least 20 minutes before serving. This dressing will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days.

Serves 6

Categories: Appetizers, Recipes
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