Hello, summer. Hello, summer heirloom tomatoes and your delicious, beautifully colored, lumpy shaped form. Is there any better fruit (yeah, fruit) than the fresh, summer tomato? I think not.
I just finished reading Tomatoland and learned way more than I ever intended about the tomato industry. Tomato agriculture actually has quite a sad and shocking history. Ever had a bright, red tomato in the dead of winter? Chances are that tomato was harvested by a slave. Modern-day slavery is alive and well in many produce industries, but none more than what was depicted in this book in the Florida tomato agriculture. Thankfully, steps have been taken to abolish slave labor and provide better wages and housing for farm workers, and that story is well documented in the book. But there’s still a long way to go.
Also well-documented in the book is the stringent checklist of attributes a tomato must possess to be deemed worthy by the Florida Tomato Committee, none of which is taste. Is the fruit the right shape? Check. Is it the right size? Check. Is the fruit the right color? Check. (By the way, nearly all tomatoes are picked when they’re green and then stored in a warehouse where they’re treated with ethylene gas to give them the red color we’ve come to cherish. Exception being organic tomatoes.) Has optimal taste been ensured? Um…uhhh…. No. The answer is no. Taste is almost never a factor in the cultivation of tomatoes. Ever had a mealy, bland tomato? I bet it looked beautiful because it passed all the other points on the checklist.
It is officially summer and so officially, it’s my favorite time of year. During the summer, I’m most likely to be found in my chair in the back yard, book in hand, drink on the table next to me, soaking in the warm air. It’s quite the contrast to my cold-weather self where egregious amounts of TV is consumed and inactivity reigns.
I tend to crave lighter dishes in the summer, but there is still room for an occasional carb-loaded delicacy and these two dishes serve both purposes. I cooked scallops for the first time about 6 months ago. Nervous that I’d screw them up, (they can be delicate and are very easy to over and under-cook), I took in the appropriate amount of YouTube videos to feel confident enough that I’d get it right. The key is to make sure your pan is screaming hot. Hotter than you think it needs to be – they’ve got to sizzle the exact moment they hit the skillet. A quick test to see if your pan is hot enough is to splash some water in it. If it sizzles, you’re ready to add your scallops.
The kitchen is back up and running after taking a little break from cooking the last week or so. Terry had gum surgery, which pretty much left her diet limited to yogurt and anything else that requires little to no chewing. Then Charlie had his teeth cleaned and had a couple benign fatty tumors removed. Needless to say, there has not been a lot of appetite to go around lately.
Since everyone’s feeling better today I pulled out this recipe that I found a while ago. I made a few modifications that I think made it even better. If you wish to keep it vegan, you can follow the original recipe or just skip the jalapeno cream. I’ve never had a cashew-based sauce, but I bet it’s probably not too bad. I’ll put that on the list of things to try another day.
This was goooo-oood. The corn adds a little more color and pop of smoky flavor to the mix. You’ll definitely get a couple different types of heat, but they’re not so overwhelming that you can’t taste the freshness of each of the vegetables. You can have fun with the presentation, too. I put the avocado sauce down first and layered everything up from there.