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Tomato Festival features quirky, traditional foods
If you’re a fan of tomato-flavored foodstuffs, the Reynoldsburg tomato festival is the place for you.
It’s no surprise that the festival, held Aug. 17-18 at Huber Park, serves as a smorgasbord of tomato-themed foods. You may be surprised, however, by some of the offerings. We’ve all heard of tomato soup, but what about tomato brownies?
This year, the concession area will feature plenty of returning favorites, as well as some new tomato-based treats.
One of the newcomers to the festival this year will be a concession stand from Coldstone Creamery featuring tomato ice cream.
The stand will be run by Ken Mogle, owner of the Coldstone Creamery in Lancaster’s River Valley Mall.
While the idea of tomato ice cream goes perfectly with the festival’s theme, Mogle admits he’s not sure what it’s going to taste like.
“We have no idea,” he said. “Look at how many things people throw in the fire at the state fair. Some of them turn out really good.”
Mogle explained that he and his family purchased and rehabbed a concession trailer, only to find they were too late for entry in most festivals this year.
“If you’re going to a themed festival and you can bring something to the table of that theme, you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting in,” he added.
Mogle consulted Coldstone’s recipe specialist, but was told the company had no tomato-flavored recipes to share. “It’s not a popular flavor to make,” he said.
He researched tomato ice cream online and discovered there were actually several recipes out there.
“We’ve narrowed it down to a few recipes,” Mogle said.
They haven’t tasted the ice cream yet because they want it to be fresh for the festival.
“We want it to be very fresh, very creamy, like the rest of our ice cream. We’ll make it the week of the festival,” he said.
While he’s not sure what the tomato will add to the flavor, Mogle is confident that his ice cream will provide a delicious base.
“Our ice cream is rich and creamy by itself. What we’re going for is if you eat a tomato with heavy cream,” Mogle said. “People eat tomatoes lots of different ways, sometimes with sugar. It’ll be like that.”
Mogle wasn’t certain whether the finished product would have a sweet or savory flavor, but he’s going for sweet.
“We don’t want the tomato flavor to overpower the ice cream, we just want the tomato to be detectable in it,” he said.
The dessert will be pleasing to the eye, as well. Mogle plans to top it with whipped cream and cherry tomato.
“I think people will be curious about it, and some will be like, ‘I gotta have it,’” Mogle said. “I’m only making so much, so either I’ll have to make more really fast, or I’ll have leftovers.”
If tomato ice cream doesn’t sound appealing to you, they’ll still have plenty for your sweet tooth. Along with its tomato ice cream, Coldstone will offer several other varieties of ice cream, as well as hot apple dumplings and some of the store’s popular ice cream cookie and cake desserts.
It’s fun to try out something new, but we all find comfort in the familiar, as well. You’ll still find many of your old Tomato Festival standbys in the concession area.
The Reynoldsburg Band boosters will sell fried green tomatoes, and other vendors will offer favorites like tomato soup, tomato brownies and tomato juice.
Not a fan of tomatoes? There will still be lots of vendors offering foods that aren’t tomato-flavored, so there will plenty of food for everyone to choose from.
Green tomatoes are usually reserved for end of season cooking, when the changing weather robs the last tomatoes on the vine of any chance for ripening.
The popularity of the fruit in its unripe state is growing more popular every year, both for its flavor and out of necessity.
Weather like we’ve had this year, with high temperatures and little rain, leave those tomatoes small and green for much longer than we’re used to.
If you’re starting to wonder if those little green tomatoes will ever turn red, go ahead a pluck them now – these recipes are made for green tomatoes, and they’ll leave you wondering why you ever waited all summer for tomatoes to turn red.
Fried green tomatoes
· 1⁄2 cup flour
· 1⁄2 cup yellow cornmeal
· 1⁄4 Panko bread crumbs
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
· 1 tablespoon Cajun season or Old Bay seasoning (optional)
· 1 egg
· 1⁄2 cup buttermilk
· 3 green tomatoes, sliced
· 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
Mix all of the dry ingredients on a large plate.
Mix the egg and buttermilk in a small bowl.
Dip the tomatoes in the buttermilk mixture, then dredge it through the cornmeal/flour mixture, making sure both sides are coated well.
Heat the oil on medium in a large skillet, and fry the tomatoes until golden and crispy, about 3-5 minutes on each side.
Carefully remove the tomatoes from the skillet and let drain for a minute or two on paper towels. Serve warm.
Green tomato salsa
· 6 medium green tomatoes, chopped
· 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
· 2 green or red peppers, finely chopped
· 1⁄4 cup sweet red onion, finely chopped
· 2 tablespoons lime juice or red wine vinegar
· 1 teaspoon salt
· Black pepper to taste
Mix all of the ingredients. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
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