Every morning we square off against the birds in our pursuit of vine-ripened tomatoes from our garden. Huge black birds watch those vines scrupulously. Let one green tomato get the slightest hint of a blush on it, and the birds swoop in for a tasty treat.
I had to be sneaky, but by looking carefully near the ground, where they weren’t so obvious to the hungry winged creatures, I rescued about 1 pound of small, slightly pinkish tomatoes so I could make this divine recipe. I lined my finds up on my window ledge until they ripened to a pretty red in color.
Tomato-and-Okra Cornmeal Cakes were just as cute as they could be and so imaginative. They might have been designed to be appetizers, but Hubby and I made full meals out of then for several evenings in a row.
Besides the okra I tossed in some chopped yellow squash for the cornmeal patty. Pimiento cheese is my middle name, so turning up a cheese spread for the second layer wasn’t tough at all. (The source of this recipe says that in this step, you also can use whipped cream cheese or goat cheese.) On top went the rescued tomatoes, which were just gorgeous all sliced up. Fresh basil from my herb patch crowned it all.
Big black birds, you lose! Hubby and I win big; this was a great dish!
Tomato-and-Okra Cornmeal Cakes
2 cups plain yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1/2 cup water
1 garlic clove
1/2 pound fresh okra, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
kosher salt (or salt substitute)
1 pound small tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
fresh basil leaves
pimiento cheese spread of your choice
In a large bowl whisk together first 3 ingredients. Whisk together egg and 1/2 cup water; add to cornmeal mixture. Whisk until smooth. Smash garlic to make a paste. Stir okra, jalapeno, and garlic paste into cornmeal mixture. (Batter will be thick and will thicken even more as it sits, so add water, if needed.) In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Into skillet pour 1 tablespoon batter for each cake; gently flatten the batter into a 2-inch cake. (Don’t overcrowd the cakes in the skillet.) Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles. Turn and cook 2 to 3 more minutes. Transfer cakes to a paper-towel-lined plate. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Keep cakes warm in a 200-degree oven. Repeat procedure with remaining batter and oil. Spread each cake with about 1 teaspoon pimiento cheese. Top with arugula, tomato, basil, kosher salt, and pepper. Makes 16 appetizer servings. (Source: Southern Living July 2012)