It's finally tomato season and our favorite luscious fruit is finding its way back onto menus all around town. While we think a thick slice and some salt is all you need to enjoy a ripe tomato, chefs work them into all kinds of creative dishes.
At High Cotton, new head chef Joe Palma is excited for tomato season. Gazpacho in January just wouldn't work, he says. Right now they have a yellow tomato gazpacho using tomatoes from either Ambrose Farms or Joseph Fields. They are pureed with garlic, red onion, sherry vinegar, and dill and mixed into a relish of diced cucumbers, spicy Mexican tarragon, salt, and rice vinegar. Zippy and refreshing.
Graze co-owner Bradford Bobitt says they have a pine nut-crusted local eggplant that uses local tomatoes prepared two different ways. The eggplant is smothered in an herbed ricotta and oven-dried tomatoes, which are sun-dried tomatoes without the sun, he says. A summer squash tapenade tops the dish off, made with roasted tomatoes seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and cooked until the skin blisters.
Out in Mt. Pleasant, Opal is featuring their best-selling appetizer, a spicy shrimp bruschetta. The flatbread is covered in shrimp and fresh tomatoes that have been sautéed in olive oil, garlic, and chilies.
Our Local Foods just started getting green tomatoes from Thornhill Farm, and Chef Erik Wilsgard pairs them with dragon tooth beans. They're like green beans but flat, speckled, and purple, he says. He's making a fried green tomato sandwich with a sweet and sour dragon tooth bean relish. The relish is made with vinegar, red onion, celery, bacon, and sugar. A homemade yeast hoagie roll with a basil aioli spread will wrap it all up. (Note: Our Local Foods is only open for lunch).
At James Island's Heart Woodfire Grill, Chef Glenn Christiansen makes the dough for their flatbreads in house. A local tomato serves as the base, which is then covered in local, charred eggplant and goat cheese. The flatbreads are cooked in a wood-fired brick oven, until crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside.