News from the Tennessee Valley Food

Sand Mountain Warm Tomato Tart and other winning recipes

Here is the top state tomato recipe, Sand Mountain Warm Tomato Tart, plus the other three regional winners.

Carlile's Tomato Pie and six other North Alabama entries were published June 22 after the regional competition in the Decatur High School cafeteria.

Sand Mountain Warm Tomato Tart

6 local organic tomatoes

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

6 3½-inch puff pastry discs

4 ounces julienned sweet onion, caramelized

3 ounces local goat cheese

1 cup pitted kalamata olives

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup chicken stock

11/4 cup blended oil

1/4 ounce oregano, leaves only

8 ounces fresh basil leaves

2 cups Davina grapeseed oil


1 cup kalamata olives cut in fourths

6 ounces Chef's Garden Salad Sensation

For the Tomato Tart:

Peel the tomatoes by cutting a cross in the skin at the bottom, taking out the core and immersing them in boiling salted water for 30 seconds, then shocking them in ice water. Remove skins.

Prepare 6 4-inch tart shells by combining the maple syrup and balsamic and evenly distributing between the pans. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and place them core side down in the pie pans.

Bake tart shells in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes, weighted with a sheet pan. Remove from oven and reserve, refrigerated. (The tomatoes pick up the flavors of the vinegar and syrup better if this is done the day before serving).

While tomatoes are baking, cut a disc of puff pastry 4 inches in diameter and bake in a 350-degree oven until golden brown. Remove and reserve at room temperature for serving.

Olive Vinaigrette:

Combine in blender and blend until smooth: 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, balsamic vinegar, chicken stock, 11/4 cup blended oil, oregano leaves and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Pass through a medium sieve to remove the olive skins and adjust the consistency with additional chicken stock if needed.

Basil Oil:

Blanch the basil for 1 second in boiling salted water. Immediately shock in an ice bath. Combine the basil, grapeseed oil, salt and pepper in a blender. Blend for 3 minutes and strain through cheesecloth. Reserve.

Caramelized Onions:

Peel onions and cut lengthwise, then julienne. Sauté them in olive oil until lightly caramelized. Reserve.

To plate:

Assemble the tart by placing a slice of goat cheese in the center of the tomato, then a generous portion of the onion, followed by the puff dough. To heat the tart, place in a 350-degree oven until warmed all the way through. Then invert onto the center of the plate.

To finish, make two rings around the tart: one of olive vinaigrette and one of basil oil. Garnish with quartered olives, basil and oregano.

Toss the greens in basil oil and season with salt and pepper. Mount on top of the tomato tart.

Hot and Hot Tomato Salad

6 large beefsteak tomatoes

1/2 pint sweet yellow tomatoes

Salt and pepper

4 ounces fresh pinkeye peas (see recipe)

1/2 small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

6 strips bacon, thinly sliced and cooked until crisp

3 ears yellow corn (see recipe)

Fried okra (see recipe)

Balsamic Vinaigrette (see recipe)

Basil Aioli (see recipe)

Prepare balsamic vinaigrette and tomato mixture, okra, pinkeye peas, corn, basil dressing and bacon.

Combine all Balsamic Vinaigrette ingredients and set aside. Wash, core and slice tomatoes. Toss in balsamic vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper and set aside.


Arrange sliced tomatoes on plates. Place yellow tomatoes around the sliced tomatoes. Divide peas and corn mixture evenly among plates. Arrange okra and bacon on plates. Drizzle basil dressing over all ingredients and serve.

Note: Look for a variety of locally grown tomatoes at a farmer's market.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

(Makes 2 cups)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup puree olive oil 1 cup fresh picked basil leaves, thinly sliced

1/2 cup sliced scallions

1 cup balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

Fried Okra:

30 small whole okra, fried

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup corn flour

1/4 cup corn meal

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper

4 cups vegetable oil

Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Trim okra stems and place in a small bowl with the buttermilk and toss until coated. Combine corn flour, cornmeal and all-purpose flour in medium-sized bowl. Add salt and pepper. Drain okra from buttermilk. Toss in cornmeal mixture and shake off excess. Fry in vegetable oil until golden. Drain on paper towels. Set aside and season with salt and pepper.


Boil corn in salted water. Remove when tender and shave kernels off cob. Combine pinkeye peas. Add 3 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette and let sit.

Pinkeye Peas:

Simmer pink eye peas in onion, water, fresh thyme, bacon trimmings and salt just until tender. When done, cool and set aside in small bowl.

Basil Aioli:

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

1 egg yolk

1 small lemon, juiced

1 cup olive oil

12 basil leaves, blanched and finely chopped

Place garlic and basil in small bowl. Add yolk, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Vigorously whisk in olive oil, being sure to create emulsion. Add a drop or two of water if too thick.

Alabama Pommes d'Amour

(Fish River Crab Risotto Stuffed Green Tomato)

Green Tomatoes:

2 quarts canola oil

1 large whole green tomato

1 cup seasoned flour

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Remove skin and stem from tomato. Slice top of tomato and hollow out the pulp and seeds. Dredge in flour; pat excess off. Mix Worcestershire and buttermilk. Roll tomato in mix to coat all sides; shake off excess.

Mix cup of breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Place tomato in breadcrumb mix and coat again completely.

Pour canola oil in a 1-gallon pot and heat to 360 degrees. Fry in oil until golden brown. Set on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

Crab Risotto:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup yellow onion (diced small)

1 cup Arborio rice

1/4 cup white wine

11/4 cup heavy cream

2 cups crab stock (can substitute chicken stock or water)

1 cup milk

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup diced tomato

2 cups Fish River Blue Crab meat (boiled and picked)

3 local jumbo shrimp (sautéed or broiled)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 ounces Elberta semi-soft cheese (Sweet Home Farm)

Place 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy-bottom pot with onions. Cook over medium flame until translucent and then add rice. Stir rice with a wooden spoon or a tempered rubber spatula until coated with the butter. Add wine and stir constantly until the rice absorbs the wine.

Add stock, milk and cream by the half cup, stirring constantly until rice has absorbed the liquid and is tender and creamy. Pull rice from the heat and add the rest of the butter, egg yolks, tomato, salt, pepper, crabmeat and 1 ounce of Elberta cheese.

Cook shrimp to your liking and reserve.

Plate presentation:

Fill fried tomato with crab risotto and drape shrimp over the side of the tomato. Recap tomato with top decoratively. Rest tomato on a bed of flavorful local lettuces such as arugula, radicchio, red oak, romaine and chicory. Garnish the plate with creative items that compliment or enhance the dish.

Carlile's Tomato Pie 9 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

10 to 12 basil leaves

12 4-inch pie shells

6 to 8 medium-sized fresh tomatoes

6 slices bacon

1 tablespoon or 1 ounce garlic salt

1/2 bunch green onion

16 ounces mayonnaise

Fry bacon, drain, then finely chop and reserve.

Peel tomatoes, slice thinly and place on paper towels to drain.

Sprinkle with garlic salt.

Combine mayonnaise, cheese, green onions, salt, and pepper for topping and reserve.

Cook pie shells per directions.

In the cooked pie shell, layer the tomatoes, bacon and basil.

Cover completely with the topping.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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