We always look for a variety of locally grown, heirloom tomatoes at our farmers market. If heirlooms are not available, we opt for ripe red tomatoes that are grown locally. The whole baby okra make for a beautiful presentation, but if it is unavailable substitute the larger sized okra and cut them into one-half-inch pieces before breading and frying.
6 large Beefsteak tomatoes
2 large Golden Delight tomatoes
2 large Rainbow tomatoes
1/2 pint Sweet 100 tomatoes (tiny cherry tomatoes can be substituted)
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinaigrette, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 smoked ham hock
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 cup fresh field peas, such as black-eyed, pink-eyed, Crowder, or butter beans
3 ears yellow corn, husked
2 tablespoons peanut oil
Salt and pepper
6 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crisp
3/4 cup Chive Dressing
6 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh basil
4 cups vegetable oil
30 pieces whole baby okra
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup corn flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
To Prepare the Salad:
Core and slice the Beefsteak, Golden Delight and Rainbow tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Toss the sliced tomatoes and the Sweet 100 tomatoes with 3/4 cup of the vinaigrette. Season the tomatoes with the salt and pepper and set aside at room temperature to marinate until ready to serve.
Combine the ham hock, onion, thyme sprig and field peas in a medium stockpot with enough cold water to cover the beans. Bring the peas to a simmer and cook until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, drain and cool. Remove and discard the ham hock, onion quarters and thyme sprig. Place the cooled peas in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Shave the kernels off the corn cobs, discarding the silks. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Season the corn with salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat and cool slightly. Toss the corn kernels with the cooked field peas and the remaining 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Set the pea mixture aside to marinate at room temperature until ready to serve.
To Prepare the Okra:
Pour the vegetable oil into a deep-sided skillet to a depth of 3 inches. (Alternately, a deep fryer can be filled with vegetable oil.) Preheat the oil to 350 degrees.
Trim the okra stems and place okra pods in a small bowl with the buttermilk. Toss until well coated.
Combine the corn flour, cornmeal, all-purpose flour, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Drain the okra from the buttermilk and toss in the cornmeal mixture. Shake off any excess cornmeal mixture. Place the okra in the preheated vegetable oil and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden. Remove okra from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Season the okra with the remaining salt and pepper, if needed. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Arrange each of the different types of sliced tomatoes on six plates. Place the whole Sweet 100 tomatoes around the sliced tomatoes. Divide the pea and corn mixture evenly among plates on top of the tomatoes. Arrange 5 pieces of fried okra around each plate and place 1 slice of crispy bacon on the top of each salad. Drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of Chive Dressing over the top of each salad and garnish each with 1 tablespoon of basil chiffonade. Serve immediately.