Friday, June 22, 2007

Fried green tomatoes

We went to the botanical gardens with Clark and Krista then forced them to come over to our house for dinner. The gardens have a bunch of sculptures of giant insects right now and it's fun to walk around with people that actually know something about art because they can seriously critique (krista = sculptor, clark = art professor & all-around art nerd, brian = brian). It makes me feel extra-sciencey.

I had found really perfect green peanuts at the DeKalb market that afternoon so I had to buy them. Problem was that I was dead-set on making squash gnocchi for dinner. How to unite these disparate elements into one cohesive meal? Southern + southern. Boiled peanuts, then fried green tomato salad and gnocchi.

It is so easy to make fried green tomatoes. Cut up 4 medium green tomatoes into 1/4 - 1/2" slices. Mixed together 3/4 cup cornmeal with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper (actually, that's just a guess, I have no idea how much salt and pepper). Melted 1 tablespoon of butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Dredged the tomato slices in the cornmeal mixture and added to the hot butter-olive oil mixture once it was sizzling hot. Flipped the slices over once they were browned and golden about 3 minutes per side. It took about 3 batches to get all the tomatoes done in my size of skillet--you may have more luck in a larger one. Once they were done, put them between layers of paper towel to drain and kept them hot in the oven. Meanwhile, sliced 5 radishes into thin matchsticks, did the same thing with 1/2 a cucumber. Put them into a salad of mixed baby greens. Tossed the salad with a dressing of 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon each red wine vinegar and champagne vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, salt and pepper. For each plate, put 3 fried tomatoes on top of a scoop of salad and put a dollop of goat cheese on top of the tomatoes, then a small handful of pine nuts on top of the goat cheese. Except that Krista and Brian hate goat cheese so really just Clark and I had it like that.

The boiled peanuts were unusually delicious. This is because they were really really good peanuts to start off with. When I was picking them out at the market the lady standing next to me said approvingly that I was doing it correctly. I boiled them in extremely salty water with 3 crumbled bay leaves, 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes and about 5 cloves of garlic, cut into chunks. I am doing the garlic like this from now on because when I drained the peanuts (tossed them in 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons chile oil) the chunks of garlic were super mellow and soft and seriously? Awesome.

Sadly, the gnocchi kind of sucked. I have covered how to make these before (I think it is in a post from November or something if you are interested) but I hadn't realized that acorn squash were so shitty compared to my usual sweet kabocha squaash. Well, they totally are. No flavor at all this time of year in winter squash. And I should have known better! Totally out of season and I tried to do it anyway. I'm sorry Barbara Kingsolver, did I learn NOTHING from your book that I read and loved? I guess not. Idiot.

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