Why was the tomato late?

He just couldn’t ketchup.
I love birthdays, and parties, and anything that involves having people get together to share laughter, food, and friendship.
One of my best friends recently had a birthday, and I wanted to throw her a surprise party.
Yes! It was a grand, last minute thought. One that I concocted the night before, and contacted all our friends the day of…I didn’t have an elaborate plan set in place. She and I had plans the day I wanted to throw the party anyway.
But, being the nature of my planning skills, and her crazy life (she lives in Boston and is never home), the grand dinner party I planned to throw for her and our guests turned into just me and the guests…since her dad wanted to take her and the family out for dinner.
Oh well, I can’t fault her for that. Family first. I couldn’t ruin the surprise by saying, “NO. I’d just really like you to come over to my house for dinner…definitely not because I have anyone over, or anything planned, or am going to have people jump out at you and yell SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”
So, while the surprise dinner party potion of the evening didn’t work out for the birthday girl, it did go well. In fact, it might have been the most seamless and well timed dinner I have ever made for more than 2 people. Everything was done on time, including the rice. Nothing was overcooked, everything that needed to be hot, was…and it all tasted good! I am counting it as a major success, and a feather in my cap.
I realize that I may be blowing this out of proportion, and exaggerating my own self-congratulations, but after watching countless family members, at countless family parties, have food come out at different times, or burnt, or undercooked, I know how frustrating it can be to cook mass amounts of food, with different cooking times, and have it all come out at once.
It is a feat. A special skill, worthy of a 20-sided die roll. Yes, I just went to the geek-side a little bit there. It happens.
This is the first part of the dinner party recipe that I will share–the green tomato and watermelon salad. I have been seeing watermelon salads and friend green tomatoes everywhere. I wanted something fresh and delicious, a distinctly summer salad. I also wanted to use up some of the fruit and veg lying around the house, without going to the store.
We are part of a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where we get boxes of fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs, and meat from local farmers in town. It is seriously awesome. And, as you might imagine, we get a TON of veggies. This past week, we were inundated with tomatoes. I also have a tomato plant. Most of the tomatoes on my plant are in the process of ripening, but are still a lovely green.
Seeing all the pictures of friend green tomatoes and tomato salad, I knew I wanted to try something with those flavors. It has been a long time since I had a green tomato, and I didn’t quite remember what it tasted like. I wanted something fresh and sweet and tart and clean. This seemed like it would fit the bill.
And boy did it.
This salad is quintessentially summer. It’s sweet, tart, salty, crisp, and wonderfully filling. It is fantastic paired with Chicken Satay (recipe to come). There is something about the combination of sweet and salty, crunchy and smooth. The challenge of flavors and textures makes food so much fun!
Let me know how you like this one!
Green Tomato and Watermelon Salad
2-3 tbsp sesame oil (optional, but adds a great toasty flavor)
1/4 c olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
5 to 6 cups chopped seedless watermelon
2 green tomatoes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons cocktail peanuts, roughly chopped
  1.  In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and jalapeno. Stir to combine.
  2. In a large bowl add the watermelon, tomatoes, and onion, tossing to combine. Let sit 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cilantro, basil, and mint to the salad. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  4. Serve on it’s own, or with a main course.



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