Looks like ALPO, tastes like heaven


All pictures but this one by Ray Hydrick

You can see from Josh’s post last week that we have been inspired by the farmer’s market and good ol’ southern cooking here in the Mischief kitchen; and this week’s post is no exception.  Recently, I had dinner at another local favorite restaurant, Hot & Hot Fish Club.  Chris Hastings, Executive Chef, makes a salad that has been a staple on their spring/summer menu that combines the best of farmer’s market fare – heirloom tomatoes, black-eyed peas and sweet corn.  Just this past weekend Chef Hastings made this same dish at Pepper Place Farmer’s Market.  That’s all I the prodding I needed, I must make this dish before all these seasonal treats are gone.

If you happened to click on the link that contained the salad recipe, you will see several differences between the one I made and the original.  Why?  Because I didn’t read the recipe before going to the store and I had to improvise – hello mischief!  So what changes did I make? 

  • I didn’t use fried okra.  I just didn’t want to heat up a cauldron of oil to fry five pieces of okra, so I decided to use croutons.  Little pieces of toasted bread cannot replace the yumminess that the okra brings but I did save myself from being marred by grease splatters. 
  • Also, his chive dressing contains creme fresh and I don’t normally keep that in the house, so I used what I thought would give the dressing the tangy flavor – a little buttermilk and goat cheese. 
  • And most of all, his plate presentation.  Josh can tell you I can get a little picky when it comes to plating for photos or for dinner parties for that matter, so the combination of these shapes was a nightmare.  Balancing these tomato slices on black-eyed peas is like watching a circus bear balancing on a ball, so I was calling it the “Tower of Crap” all night until this past weekend at Orange Beach the waiter said my dish I was ordering “looks like ALPO, tastes like heaven” (he is NOT on their sales & marketing team).  The adage seems fitting for this as well.    

Let’s sling some ALPO, shall we?

Heirloom Tomato Salad
1 lb fresh or frozen black-eyed peas (not canned!)
2 ears of fresh corn
1 tablespoon of butter
6 strips of bacon
2 varieties of medium heirloom tomatoes
2 cups french bread, cubed
2 tablespoons balsamic dressing (recipe below)
2 tablespoons chive dressing (recipe below)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Balsamic Dressing
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small garlic clove, grated or minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper

Chive Dressing
1 small garlic clove, minced or grated
3 tablespoons chives or scallions, finely chopped
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons buttermilk
4 oz goat cheese, softened
Salt and pepper

Prep Work – Croutons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a sheet pan arrange bread cubes in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Mix to combine.  Place in oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Don't let them burn like Josh and I tend to do.

Prep Work – Black-eyed Peas
In a large sauce pan add black-eyed peas and three strips of bacon that has been cut into one-inch pieces.  Add a teaspoon of salt and cover with water (just above the peas).  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 12-15 minutes or until tender but not mushy.

Remember if they are fresh, don't forget to wash them and look for bad ones.

Prep Work – Sauted Corn
Using your knife, carefully cut the corn kernels from the cob.  In a saute pan, add the tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted and bubbling, add the corn.  Saute for about 5-8 minutes until tender but not mushy.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. 

I should have used Josh's trick with the bunt pan.

Prep Work – Bacon
Since we are only cooking three slices of bacon, use the microwave.  Place the bacon between several paper towels on a plate.  Microwave 3-5 minutes (depends on microwave) or until brown.  The bacon will crisp as it cools. 

Prep Work – Tomatoes
Cut each tomato into 1/4 inch slices. 

Look how cool this heirloom tomato is!

Place on a plate and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Macerating tomatoes

Prep Work – Balsamic Dressing
Place balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil until thoroughly combined.

Prep Work – Chive Dressing
Unless you have a good whisking arm and don’t mind the occasional splatter, I would suggest making this in a small food processor.  Combine all ingredients into the processor (or mixing bowl) and mix to combine.  While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil until thoroughly combined.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

Assembling (Finally!)
After 18 hours of prep work (kidding), it is now time to assemble the salad.  Place a tomato slice on a plate, top with a teaspoon or so of both the black-eyed peas and corn, add another tomato slice, add more corn and peas.  Add the final tomato slice and add the peas, corn and crumbled bacon.  Drizzle with two tablespoons of both the balsamic and chive dressings.  Top with 5-8 croutons and enjoy. 

Okay, so I realize that you just probably spent 2 hours prepping for this salad but it is totally worth it.  And hopefully, it looks better that a dogs breakfast.  Below is a picture of Chris Hastings version and then mine.  You be the judge – ALPO or beauty in the eye of the beholder?

I think his towers over mine

2 Responses to “Looks like ALPO, tastes like heaven”

  1. rhbulldawg Says:

    beauty is in the eye of the beholder. – This tasted awesome!

  2. Jamie Says:

    This was delicious!!!

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