Market Finds: Tomato Hoarder Edition

Market Finds: Tomato Hoarder Edition

There’s nothing that says love than a big bowl of tomato soup. Why not share this recipe, brimming with Farmer’s Market bounty, with your numero uno?!! Click to skip to the recipe

Heirloom Tomato Soup


Facemask in hand, I was strolling the mark last week and found a few exceptional produce offerings.


The varieties of heirloom tomatoes are on full display at almost every farmer’s stand.  If there were a TV show that centered on tomato hoarders, I would be featured on episode number one! I just can’t help myself.

I fill my straw basket with these red, ripe beauties and then take them home and display them on my counter. 

Luckily, I am married to the numero uno tomato consumer and we eat them at every meal. But, when the numero uno consumer can’t keep up with the number one hoarder, we have a problem. 

Enter my recipe for heirloom tomato soup. I think you are going to love this one.

One of the most interesting additions to my soup is elephant garlic. Remember those beautiful garlic scapes we found in the spring? Well, those scapes are on the top end of growing bulbs of garlic that are dug up right about now. 

The cloves from this garlic are huge and have more of the texture of a turnip than a potato. The taste is more delicate and doesn’t overpower the flavor of this soup.

Last but not least, I found delicate zucchini squash blossoms still attached to their mini mates. These need to be dealt with quickly, as they don’t have an awfully long life span in the fridge.

I stuffed the flowers with a combination of ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and roasted them alongside the mini-squash for a delightful bite of cheesy vegginess. 

It was an excellent side dish for the soup. A super YUM on the Yum-O-Meter.

I offer my soup recipe for you to try this week, whether your strolling the market or not. 

There’s nothing that says love than a big bowl of tomato soup.

Why not share one with your numero uno?!!

Heirloom Tomato Soup

Elephant garlic gives this soup a unique flavor as well as an interesting texture.


2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, about 6 large

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, peeled and diced

3 cloves elephant garlic, thinly sliced, about ¼ cup (substitute with 3 cloves regular garlic)

1 cup sherry 

1 (28-ounce can) crushed tomatoes

1-quart vegetable stock

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ cup half and half

Yields:   A crowd

Time:   60-minute cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Peel the tomatoes by first slicing the skin crosswise at the stem and then placing them in boiling water for just a few seconds. Transfer the tomatoes to a colander and peel the skin. Cut the tomatoes into chunks.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more. Pour in the sherry and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the soup for 20 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to emulsify the soup. You can also use a stand-blender or food processor to accomplish this step but cool the soup first. You don’t want hot soup in a blender!

Stir in the half and half. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. You can add more salt and pepper if you like, or any other herb or spice you want to flavor your soup. It’s all good!!

Shoots and Sprouts and Other Market Finds

Shoots and Sprouts and Other Market Finds

There’s nothin’ that says “South In Your Mouth” like tomato pie and this one says it all! Also, learn how to make a melting, fragrant, nutty pesto that is delicious as a condiment on summer sweet corn, pasta, and atop your avocado toast!  Click to skip to the recipe


In the age of “New Normal”, strolling the early Saturday morning Farmer’s Market takes on new character.

Gone is the plucking of a purplish tomato, brought to the nose for a quick sniff. The mask gets in the way!

The lines at the veggie stands are a little longer, now that we queue up six feet apart.

Displays of fresh baked goods are abandoned and replaced by take home bake-it-yourself wrapped containers.

It can all be a tad disheartening.

Except that if you spend a slower amount of time strolling, you may just see something you’ve missed during your past visits.

And that, my friends, happened to me this past weekend. I discovered Sunshine Cove Farm.

Sunshine Cove Farm is a small-scale farm with a big mission. They are working to build local resilience in the mountain community by finding ways to grow A LOT of nutritious food with a limited footprint.

They specialize in produce that packs BIG nutritional value into a little space. Their harvest includes microgreens, shoots, edible flowers, and specialty vegetables.

I was drawn to the stand because of their unique marketing. Gourmet packets held mixes with names like Pico de Gallo and Immunity Mix.

Well, I just couldn’t resist.

I bought a couple of packages and slipped them into my basket with my other goodies and headed home.

Since my Pico de Gallo Mix included cilantro, onion, and lime basil, I decided to incorporate these shoots and sprouts into my garlic scape pesto.

It was YUM!

Pesto is great on veggies or pasta, but I slathered some on a rack of lamb the other evening and it was beyond delish.

When company came a-calling for a little Sunday night potluck, I topped my utterly Southern Tomato Pie with some of the shoots and sprouts from the Market Mix and the edible flowers were the perfect garnish.

If you can’t make it to the market, you can order from Sunshine Cover Farms online. It’s worth the effort! (So, is the pie!!)


Tomato Pie

Tomato Pie


There’s nothin’ that says “South In Your Mouth” like tomato pie and this one says it all!

1 pre-baked pie shell (see note)

4 large tomatoes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces Mozzarella cheese, grated, about 1 cup

4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated, about 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon black pepper

4 to 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Assorted microgreens for garnish



6 to 8

40-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°. Slice the tomatoes and place them into a colander. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let them sit for 10 minutes.

Mix together the cheeses and mayonnaise in a bowl. Fold in the green onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the bacon over the bottom of the pie crust. Layer the tomatoes on top of the bacon. Sprinkle the tomatoes with basil and green onions. Spoon the cheese topping over everything.

Bake the pie until the topping begins to turn golden and is melty and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and cool. Spread the microgreens over the top of the pie. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make-Ahead Tip:

Get a head start on this delicious dish by using a refrigerated pie crust. To prebake the crust, preheat your oven to 400°. 

Place the pie dough into a pie pan and crinkle the edges. Pierce the bottom of the dough with the tines of a fork. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the pie shell. Fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake until the edges begin to turn golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pie shell from the oven. Remove the parchment paper and the weights.

Bake until the bottom of the shell is just golden, about 5 to 8 minutes more. Remove the shell from the oven and reduce the heat to 350° to continue the recipe.

Garlic Scape Pesto


In the early summer market, you can find long, green, circles of thin stalks that are garlic scapes. These are the flower bud of garlic plants. They are cut off the plant so that the bulb grows fatter and fatter. These strands of garlicky goodness can be used in the same way as garlic cloves with no peeling of course! I use them to make pesto and then I spread that pesto on everything. Melting, fragrant, nutty pesto is delicious as a condiment on summer sweet corn, pasta, and atop your avocado toast!



About 2 Cups

20-Minute Cuisine

2 bunches garlic scapes (about 20 shoots)

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, about 4 cups

Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons

4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about 1 cup

1 cup toasted pine nuts

1 package Pico de Gallo shoots and microgreens  (substitute with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro)

1 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the garlic scapes into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to finely chop.

Add the basil, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. Pulse to combine. Add the microgreens and pulse one more time. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil. The result will be a smooth paste. Stop the machine and season with salt and pepper. Pulse one more time.

Transfer to a mason jar with lie, or resealable container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week or store in ice cube trays in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Woo-hoo! Watauga Farmers Market to Reopen May 5th!

Woo-hoo! Watauga Farmers Market to Reopen May 5th!

I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the summer time, where the farmers markets brighten up the road sides with in season produce, fresh flower bouquets, and vending stations offering all kinds of goodies. As a cookbook author, it’s a chance to run wilder than the azaleas in bloom– and my favorite place to do it is the Watauga Farmers Market in Boone, NC.

I always load up on beets, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, collards, green peas, lettuces of all kinds, and loads of delicious strawberries this time of year.

My Kale Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese takes advantage of the freshest kale, sweetest strawberries and creamy artisanal cheese found in the market. There’s a cheese maker at the Watauga Farmer’s Market in the mountains of North Carolina that makes so many variations of goat cheese that it’s hard to choose. You can taste them all, if you are patient enough to wait your turn.

I also like to create super granola with the seeds and nuts I find at the market. Look for the super granola recipe at the bottom of this recipe. All kinds of possibilities lay in wait under those farmer’s market tents! See you around…

Kale Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese
& a Nutty Topper
Serves 4 to 6 as a side salad
30 Minute Cuisine

For Nutty Topper:
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup roasted, salted and shelled pistachios
¼ cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
¼ cup roasted, and salted Pepitas

For Dressing:
½ large lemon juiced, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
½ cup olive oil

For Salad:
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves chopped, about 3 to 4 cups
1 pint fresh strawberries, stems removed and sliced, about 2 cups
4 to 5 medium radishes, sliced thin, about 1 cup
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled, about ½ cup

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a medium skillet pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the pistachios, sunflower seeds and pepitas. Cook until the nuts are just beginning to toast, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the nuts and seeds onto a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet to cool.

Place the lemon juice, mustard and honey in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Place the kale into a salad bowl and pour the dressing over the top. Let the salad sit on the counter at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the leaves to soften.

Add the strawberries, radishes and goat cheese to the salad bowl. Toss with the kale and dressing and sprinkle the nutty topper over the top.

To make super granola: Just place nuts and/or seeds into a bowl with 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, ½ cup dried fruit (like cranberries or blueberries), and a tablespoon of honey. Toss with a beaten egg white, a tablespoon of honey and a pinch of salt. Pour the granola mixture onto a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350°until the oats are golden and toasted, about 10 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container. Spoon granola over yogurt and berries for a fast and yummy breakfast starter!


Pizza for Breakfast is a Farm Fresh Fav

Pizza for Breakfast is a Farm Fresh Fav

This is an example of the yummy farmer This is an example of the yummy farmer’s market pizza I’m talkin’ about!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The real reason so many hungry shoppers get out of bed on Saturday morning is to hit the local farmer’s market for samples of yummy breakfasts. You’ll taste everything from uber-large frosted muffins, tub-size cinnamon rolls, piled high ham, to biscuit sammies. And then there’s the pizza truck…!

Boasting a wood fire oven, the truck is parked so that every strolling patron is forced to pass by. Oh yes, there’s the pepperoni and sausage pizza, as well as the white pizza with freshly picked basil for topping. But, the most popular by far is the breakfast pizza – or my own version, which is more of a flatbread. It’s piled high with what I like to call “everything breakfast”: eggs, cheese bacon and sausage. Then there’s that surprise of sweetness to balance out the salt.  Shoppers wait in line to place their order and then visit the farmer’s stalls while they wait for the pizza to come out of the oven. Once your name is called and the pizza handed over, you can see all the “where can I get me some of that?” smiles from yards away.

So, what do you do if it’s a rainy day, or your breakfast craving shows up during the week when farmer’s markets are closed? Here’s my make-it-at-home version of breakfast pizza that’s easily prepared, and tastes just like the one from the market. It’s just a little slice of breakfast heaven!

This is MY VERSION of the Farmer This is MY VERSION of the Farmer’s Market Pizzas I’ve so loved…RECIPE BELOW!

Breakfast Flatbreads

Serves 4

20 Minute Cuisine

2 green onions, thinly sliced, about 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ red bell pepper, diced, about 2 tablespoons

4 ounces bulk sausage

4 slices bacon

4 large eggs

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

4 ounces shredded Monterey jack cheese, about ½ cup

2 prepared flatbreads

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400°. If you have a pizza stone you can heat the stone in the oven. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, pepper and sausage. Cook until the sausage is browned and crumbled, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the sausage to a bowl. Let the skillet cool. Use paper towels to wipe out the skillet.

Place the bacon in the skillet, and cook over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon to paper toweling to drain. Cool the skillet, pour off the excess fat, and use paper towels to wipe out the pan.

Whisk together the eggs in a small bowl. Pour the eggs into the skillet and cook over low heat until the eggs begin to form curds. You want to undercook the eggs rather than firmly scramble them. Season with salt and pepper.

Lay the flatbreads onto a baking sheet, layered with parchment paper. If you are using a stone, you can lay the flatbreads onto your pizza peel, dusted with flour. Top each flatbread with the cheese. Layer the sausage on top. Spoon the eggs over the sausage and cheese. Crumble the bacon on top of the eggs.

Bake the flatbreads until the eggs cook through and the cheese melts, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle the top of the flatbreads with maple syrup. Cut each one into four slices and dig in!

Ladies and Gentleman, Step Right Up!

Ladies and Gentleman, Step Right Up!

I’ve got a crystal ball ya’ll. I saw these food trends coming from a mile away. Heck, I saw them coming from an organically run farm acre away. It seems that 2017 is all about getting back to the basics, and chefs trying a whole lot harder to please us. They are not only altering their menus, but altering the whole look and feel of the dining experience. Food trucks aren’t the rage they used to be, but simmered down into chef driven casual concepts that steered millions toward street fair foods. If we can enjoy it all in a hot bowl, on a kebab, or at a communal table under a string of patio lights, we love it. As many as 2.5 billion people a day grab dinner on the go, and have developed a taste for dinners like poke bowls and Pho soups. More on that in a minute.

I think I just heard the dinner bell ring.

Food halls are a big part of the 2017 menu — where specialty food purveyors convene in an open air market to offer high-end menu items in a casual atmosphere; think the Morgan Street Food Hall & Market (no family relation, unfortunately) in downtown Raleigh. I summer in North Carolina every year, and I’m so busy in my own neck of the woods (up in the Blue Ridge Mountains), I haven’t tried this out yet. The fairs and festivals in Watauga County define the seasons for me, and show up on my plate in more colors and flavors than I can keep up with. A beautiful example is the autumn festival, Valley Crusis — which takes place in the mountian town of the same name. I blogged about the apple butter at that fair until it resulted in a great big cake!

Lots of coastal cities have places just like this one in Wilmington, NC, lined up and down with delicious restaurants and food shops. Go on a quest to see them all! Lots of coastal cities have places just like this one in Wilmington, NC, lined up and down with delicious restaurants and food shops. Go on a quest to see them all!

In the USA, we can get inspired just about any time of year. The fairs and festivals scheduled for 2017, all over the nation, help a foodie capitalize on the hottest culinary trends of the day: donuts with crazy yummy fillings, house made artisan ice cream, ancient grains with names like “forbidden rice”, sea food loaded bone broths, the Vietnamese know just how to tinker with, so you feel deeply satisfied. There are more African and Meditarranean flavors than ever before in our food. We’re curing our meats with ethnic spices, and that restaurant in the art district has a waiting list because of the housemade sausage. Heirloom vegetables and hyper local ingredients are taking over our plates — it used to be a big deal for a chef to use Produce he grew himself. Now this concept is simply par for the course.

The news is great for the younger, less discerning palates too.

More and more restaurants are appealing to children, making sure their sandwiches are on whole wheat, unrefined bread. Your favorite venue, I feel safe in assuming, is getting ready to ditch the name brand condiments on the table in flavor of (sorry, Freudian slip), homemeade ketchups, sauces and salsas. 2017 will bring us new cuts of meat, using heritage breeds meats. I thought, being a Floridian where some of our food trends are slow to materiliaze let alone catch up, that there wouldn’t be such a thing. I was wrong. A quick check revealed heritage meat farms in Tampa and South Florida, where pigs and chickens live off the land, rather than a bag of feed.

Before I PHO-get to mention it…

Aren Aren’t these Poke Bowls GORGEOUS?

Before I go, I want to leave you with Pho and Poke bowl recipes and ideas. Pho is a delcious bone broth soup that has pretty much sustained the entire continent of Asia since the dawn of man. It got hot in America all of a sudden. You can watch a video of an award winning chef making it right here on All Recipes.

Just be sure to gather ingredients, like beef bones, sirloin, star anise, fresh ginger, cilantro, rice noodles, bean spouts and ever loving handfuls of cancer fighting onions. Just be sure to gather ingredients, like beef bones, sirloin, star anise, fresh ginger, cilantro, rice noodles, bean spouts and ever loving handfuls of cancer fighting onions.

For the Hawaiian poke bowls…these usually feature fresh cuts of ahi (raw tuna), mixed with sesame seeds, shallots and other savory items. I found this awesome vegetarian version.

It’s all a lot to digest, I know — I’ll be washing it down with a tall glass of gourmet lemonade, which has changed a lot since the first World’s Fair when people started buying it on the regular. We’re all about filtered lemonades now, with only the purest ingredients — and a refreshing take that folks are willing to pony up just as much for, as a peek at the bearded lady. Welcome 2017. I’ll take seconds!