published Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Grainger County tomatoes produce a crop of recipes

Good morning, good readers. You've filled the inbox with recipes, but nary a request, and without a question, there can of course be no answer, so please do hurry up and pose some questions. While you're thinking, here are some possibilities that would yield tasty results if you could get us the recipes: sweet stewed tomatoes made with fresh tomatoes, a Heath bar or Skor bar dessert of any kind, multigrain loaf yeast bread and easily caramelized onions that do not contain sugar.

Signal Mountain Rose got to reminiscing about childhood days when "I used to pick poke greens, which my mother would cook for me. All I remember is that the greens were supposed to be cooked in 'three waters.' I suppose that she just boiled them, draining them twice, as one would do spinach. I loved eating them, but a couple of years later we moved, and I had no source of poke to pick after that." (That's right poetic, the end of that sentence.) And can we assume that poke may not be purchased here, only found growing nearby? Let's have some more details, readers. (And Rose has promised us a recipe for authentic French tapenade, brought back from a trip to France she took with friends many years ago. If you've got a favorite tapenade, send it on.

Bonnie Thomas reminisced from Lookout Mountain about a long-ago banana salad. "Linda Morris said nobody she talked to had heard of banana salad. Well, she never talked to anyone who attended GPS in the '50s. The same banana salad, minus the almonds on top, was among the daily salad selections. It was always a favorite." And in that same GPS venue today, where good food is still a priority, I had a black bean and sweet potato quesadilla accompanied by spinach soufflé. Just might be better than banana salad.

Barbara Smith sent a gracious answer to the request for Grainger County tomato recipes: the two recipes from her collection that we'll print today and, in fact, a cookbook from the Grainger County Tomato Festival, which highlights the particular produce from this upper East Tennessee locale in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Today's recipes are for unusual salads, two with plenty of tomatoes and one with none -- but tomatoes would be great alongside.

Mexican Cornbread Salad

For cornbread:

1 (6-ounce) package Mexican cornbread mix (Martha White)

1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies, undrained

Dash ground sage

Prepare cornbread mix according to package ingredients and directions, adding green chilies and sage. Turn out of pan and cool completely.

For sour cream mixture:

11 ounces light or regular sour cream

1 cup light or regular mayonnaise

1 package dry ranch salad dressing mix

Combine sour cream, mayonnaise and dressing mix, and set aside.

For salad:

2 (16-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

2 (151/2-ounce) cans whole-kernel corn, drained

3 large Grainger County tomatoes, chopped

10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, optional (this may be served on the side, as it tends to go soft if put in the salad)

1 (8-ounce) package (or more) shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup sliced green onions

Chopped green olives (optional)

Crumble half the cornbread in a large bowl. Top with half each of the beans, sour cream mixture, green pepper, corn, chopped tomato (pour over all the juice from the tomatoes), bacon (if using), cheese and onion. Repeat layers. Sprinkle some chopped green olives on top if desired. Cover tightly and chill overnight if possible. Serve cold.

Paula Deen's Corn Salad

Serve this corn salad with Grainger County tomatoes or other good, sliced, summer tomatoes.

2 (15-ounce) cans whole-kernel corn, drained

2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup green peppers, chopped

1/2 cup red onions, chopped

1 (101/2-ounce) bags coarsely crushed Fritos chili cheese corn chips or 1/2 regular and 1/2

barbecue corn chips

Mix corn, cheese, mayonnaise, green peppers and onions and chill. Stir in corn chips just before serving.

This recipe came from "Cooking with Grainger County Tomatoes."

Greek Tomato Salad

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Tomatoes, sliced

Dried or fresh oregano

Feta cheese, crumbled

Combine oil, vinegar, garlic salt and sugar. Pour over sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with oregano and feta cheese, and serve at room temperature.

The Stone Cup, a coffee bar on Frazier Avenue, serves a simple but well-seasoned cup of gazpacho, one more great summer tomato treat, light and good for you. Have you tasted any cold soups this summer that you could recommend, or duplicate? If so, do share. And we'll watch for you next week.

To Reach Us

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

  • Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750.

  • E-mail: janehenegar@gmail.com.

  • Fax: 423-668-5092.

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