A mission statement

Hello, and welcome to My Kitchen and I. Every year I choose a cuisine to explore. This year, it's the year of the Snake! And I'll be continuing to cook mostly Asian foods, particularly Chinese dishes. Have I finally found the best cuisine in the world? Come explore and cook with me and let's find out. Please feel free to share your stories and comment on anything you see here, and thanks so much for visiting. Hope you enjoy the Year of the Snake in food!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Green Tomato Salad -- gratitude for abundance #letslunch

This spring I planted four tomato plants in the back corner of my mostly inactive garden, hoping for an abundance of red, ripe garden-grown tomatoes. But I guess I was a little late planting them. And then there was a drought, which didn't help matters.

The garden thus produced only two ripe tomatoes for me this year, and left me with a whole bunch of green tomatoes that have absolutely no chance of ripening before frost.

To say I was disappointed in my gardening efforts, would be understating things a bit. Nothing in my opinion is better about summer than a garden-ripe tomato. Slice one up on a plate, alternating with fresh mozzarella cheese, some olive oil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and fresh-cracked black pepper. This is such a superb lunch, one I could eat every day.

Now I do remember how once upon a girlhood my grandmother would make bacon, lettuce, fried green tomato sandwiches. And those were good. She usually made them at the beginning of the season, to celebrate the ripe tomatoes soon to be had. I went to rescue a green fall tomato to eat a sentimental dinner in her honor, though I wasn't feeling too celebratory about it. Rooting around in the still healthy tomato plants, I was saddened by just how many green tomatoes there really were. Easily 7 quarts.

How sad, I thought, to just waste them. But frost was coming, and there are really only so many BLGT sandwiches a girl is willing to eat. If they were just a little further along ... But ripening such green tomatoes ...

Well, that's just about as substandard as it gets, to me anyway.

More green tomato recipe ideas
collected at My Green Tomato Pinterest board
Out of idle curiosity I googled green tomato recipes as I munched on my BLGT. There surely couldn't be much ... could there?

I was actually surprised. Curried pork stirfries, asian pear salads ... people had some really creative ideas for their green tomatoes.

And so I started think ...

What if my lack of red tomatoes was really abundance in disguise? If I were looking at these green tomatoes as something fabulous instead of something negative, what would happen?

A green tomato is really not at all untasty, I thought, still chewing on my sandwich. It is tart in a mild, fresh way. They'd do well, I thought, in a sweet-sour concoction. And they hold up to cooking far better than a ripe tomato, so they could actually make sense in a stir fry. They'd be good in a cheesy gratin, too. Wouldn't they make a dandy pickle, too?

And so I began to be thankful for what my garden had produced, instead of disappointed. I had green tomatoes! In great abundance! This wasn't a lack of ripe tomatoes. This was endless, delicious possibility, waiting to be realized.

This month, the #letslunch decided on the theme of gratitude. I'm thankful to them. If I had not been cogitating on the whole meaning of gratitude, I might not have had this little insight at all.

Gratitude. It's looking at your green tomatoes and seeing the endless, delicious possibilities, instead of the red, ripe tomatoes you didn't get.

Here then is a salad full of gratitude and abundance, and my best wishes to all of you for a joyous Thanksgiving with those you love. (And, should any of you have other ideas for delicious green tomatoes,  please do let me know. I've got a plentitude left, even after making this salad!)

Green Tomato Salad

First, marinate some steaks in oyster sauce and garlic. I scored the meat with diagonal slashes and worked the mixture into the crevices. I'd say about 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce and one clove of garlic per steak is about right.

Now make a little cheese plate. Because the steaks need to marinate for a while. And you're going to be hungry. Plus this is about celebrating abundance, and nothing says abundance to me like a nice cheese plate with a good pinot noir.

In between munching on cheese slices, thinly slice four or five green tomatoes, thusly. You could quarter them for bite size pieces if you wish, but I kept mine whole for better presentation on the plate.

Mince some ginger, snip off some cilantro and deseed a pomegranate. All while nibbling on your cheese plate, of course. Have a sip of wine while you're at it. I'm not going to tell on you.

Did you know, by the way, that pomegranates are a symbol of abundance in some cultures? I didn't know until I was putting this blog post together, but I like that my salad which is about gratitude has such bright symbolism in it.

This salad goes together quickly, so now's a good time to start the grill. Hopefully your neighbors won't call the cops. Like mine did. Yes, they seriously did! Two firetrucks and three police cars showed up looking for a fire! Fortunately they didn't think my barbecue grill qualified. ;p~

Think it was a hint my neighbors wanted me to share my steak dinner with them?

Once the fire settles down and the fire trucks go away, you can finish making your salad. You might want to pour a second glass of that wine, too. Who can blame you?

Layer the tomatoes with the minced ginger, cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Slice a couple of limes and juice them using the simple fork method. I don't know about you, but I get as much juice that way as the more complicated gadgets.

Next, add the secret ingredient. I learned this little trick over at the She Simmers blog, linked in the upper right corner of this blog.

Her secret ingredient is fish sauce.

Kid you not! No I have not been drinking! Too much anyway ...

Trust me. Fish sauce is an umami flavor bomb. It will tame the tartness of this salad and really make your flavors pop.

I put about 1 tablespoon of it in this and added a pinch of sugar to taste. Leela calls this kind of salad dressing a yam. You can read more about her method at SheSimmers.

Now that the salad is made and the cheese plate dutifully demolished, your steaks are probably lonely enough and quite ready for some loving on the grill. Don't make 'em wait any longer. Cook to your individual preference of course. I went with medium rare.

For good measure, I also grilled a rather plain, garlic-salted chuck steak, on the side. But I needn't have worried. The Thai-style steak recipe was actually the perfect blend of flavors for my green tomato salad. I'm going to have some great lunches this week!

In the meantime, I enjoyed a little of my green tomato salad as a side dish for that little side steak, on which I placed a generous dollop of blue cheese butter. Mmmmm ...

Yes it was as delicious as it looks. And no, I didn't share any of it with my stinky neighbors.

If you are interested in more green tomato ideas, I've started a Pinterest Green Tomato Board. The collection includes an article exploring the safety of eating green tomatoes. Turns out they contain a substance called tomatine that may bind with cholesterol and help the body get rid of it.

Be sure to check out these other posts from the #letslunch bunch while you're at it. Not only are they delicious, but they will make you think about the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

‘Plumb’ cake from Lisa at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Pain au Levain from Rebecca at Grongar Blog
Seafood Chowder from Lucy at A Cook and Her Books
Cracked Black Pepper and Blue Cheese Crackers from Charissa at Zest Bakery
Gratitude Fried Rice from Linda at Spicebox Travels
A Thanksgiving tablecloth tradition from Lucy at In a Southern Kitche
Gratitude Soup from Rashda at Hot Curries and Cold Beer
Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar (gluten free) from Linda at Free Range Cookies
5 Minute Wonder Soup from Eleanor at Wokstar

Pumpkin roll from Annabelle at Glass of Fancy

Pickled Oyster Mushrooms from Joe Yonan at Cooking for One

Green Tomato Salad from Renee at My Kitchen and I


  1. My goodness! I love this post. I love your tomatoes. I love your salad. I've never really known what to do with green tomatoes... so thank you!

  2. Thanks Rebecca. :)

    I too was ignorant of green tomato goodness. I have to thank you and the #letslunch crew for the insight.

  3. I love how you used Asian seasonings to make this meal! Balancing the tart green tomatoes with fish sauce, a nice tip from Leela of @shesimmers and using oyster sauce to marinade your steaks. And that little word lesson at the end, I'm liking your year of Asia!

  4. Thank you Linda and Eleanor! I am having fun with the Asian theme, though I think I've only barely scratched the surface of Asian cooking. Might have to extend it another year to go deeper! :)

  5. I also planted four tomato plants this season! I might be harvesting the last of my green tomatoes soon myself if the weather doesn't improve so I might have to try this!

  6. I'm not into cooking but I loved this post -- your story pulled me into the entire culinary affair!

  7. I'm gonna save this for next year's green tomato crop. Thanks for the idea!

  8. High praise indeed, thanks, Joe! I hope you enjoy the salad. :)

  9. Did you know that green tomatoes will ripen indoors, they might not be as tasty as a vine ripened but much better than any store bought. cool recipie!

  10. Yes anonymous, I know, but as explained in the blog, if they are too green, they won't ripen before losing significant quality, or even sometimes rotting.


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