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ST. CLAIRE DONAGHY | INDEX-JOURNAL

Faye Parks' marinated tomatoes with cucumbers and onions is a snap to prepare and is a refreshing side dish or salad.


Faye and Bo Parks of the Sand Ridge community in Greenwood County harvest local tomatoes from the nearly 100 tomato plants Bo has planted on acreage at his old home place.

The wife and husband are among vendors at the Greenwood County Farmers Market off S.C. 72/221 and they have been selling produce there for about five years.

"He does the growing and I do the picking," Faye Parks said, noting she's partial to sweet-tasting tomato varieties, whereas her husband likes ones with a more acidic taste.

Faye Parks said she often slices fresh tomatoes to serve with meals. Her other favorite way to enjoy them is in tomato sandwiches, between slices of bread dressed with Duke's mayonnaise.

"But, sometimes, you want something a little different," she said.

Parks said she discovered a fresh alternative at one of her favorite local restaurants, the Southside Cafe at 201 W. Kirksey Drive in Greenwood. Parks liked their cucumber salad with tomatoes and onions so much that she has since experimented with her own version at home.

"I do not know what kind of dressing they put on it, but I've tried to find something similar," Faye Parks said. "Mine is not theirs, but it's pretty good."

Local growers will likely have fresh tomatoes until the first frost, Faye Parks said.

"Bo has always enjoyed gardening and we would have more than we could use or that people would pick, so we started selling at the (Greenwood County Farmers) Market," she said. "We enjoy going out there and meeting people."

In addition to tomatoes, the Parks' grow cucumbers, okra, squash, speckled butter beans, green beans and watermelons.

Tomatoes are fruits that are good sources of vitamins A and C. They are low in calories and sodium.

The Clemson Cooperative Extension Home and Garden Information Center suggests:

-- Slicing tomatoes with a serrated knife. If you slice them lengthwise instead of across, you will retain the juice.

-- Stuffing tomatoes with cottage cheese or with chicken, egg or tuna salad sprinkled with paprika. First, cut off the top crosswise and scoop out seeds and juice.

-- Baking tomatoes with Parmesan cheese and seasonings. Cut off the tops crosswise. Sprinkle with cheese and seasonings. Bake 10 to 15 minutes on a baking sheet at 425 degrees F.

FAYE PARKS' MARINATED TOMATOES WITH CUCUMBERS AND ONIONS

1 1/2 pounds firm, ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 pound cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced

1/2 cup diced Vidalia onion

1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic (optional)

1/3 cup Ken's Country French dressing with Orange Blossom Honey

1 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon canola oil

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Combine French dressing, vinegar, oil and sugar. Stir mixture into the prepared vegetables. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

 

SIMPLE TOMATO SALAD WITH SEASONED BREAD CRUMBS (adapted from myrecipes.com/tomato salad with Caesar breadcrumbs)

Four large tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

6 basil leaves, chopped

1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and lightly toasted for 6 minutes

1/2 cup of your favorite Italian dressing or vinaigrette

1 head of lettuce, shredded, washed and spun dry

In a large bowl, toss the tomato, feta cheese, basil, bread crumbs and Italian dressing. Mix well and let sit for 5 minutes. Place shredded lettuce into 4 chilled bowls. Top with the tomato mix and serve. Makes 4 salads.