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Tomato Madness coming to Lexington

The Lexington Farmers Market will hold its “Tomato Madness” event on Saturday, July 21.  It features activities for all ages, including a recipe contest, tomato toss, live music and balloon sculpting by Ryan Short.

The activities begin with the Tomato Recipe Contest at 9:30 a.m. The public may enter a favorite recipe that uses fresh tomatoes as an ingredient. Prepared dishes should be large enough for at least six taste samples. Typed or handwritten recipes should be brought with the entry and the entrant must be willing for his or her recipe to be shared. Winners will be determined by a panel of three judges, chef Daniel Huynh of Shoto’s, chef John Wilson of Sophie’s Cork and Ale, and foodie Jeff Miller of the Backyard Retreat.  A first place prize of $40 cash will be awarded to the winner. Second place will receive $25.

A Bloody Mary Recipe Contest will follow at 10 a.m.:  Entries must use fresh tomatoes as one of the ingredients. Entries and recipes should be brought to the market by 10 a.m. This contest will be judged by mixologist extraordinaire Jimmy Huynh, aka Jimmy the Bartender of Shoto’s.  The winner will receive $40 cash.  A second place prize of $25 will be awarded.

Short will be at the market creating his whimsical balloon sculptures from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Live Music by Lexington’s own Davis Tucker will begin at 10 a.m.  This will be Davis’ fifth year entertaining audiences at the Tomato Madness event.

The ever popular and sometimes messy Tomato Toss will begin at 11 a.m.  Kids and adults will be able to sign up in teams of two to compete in a tomato toss, where overripe tomatoes are tossed by one partner to the other, who attempts to catch them in a bucket. Aprons are provided. The winners of the tomato toss only walk away with bragging rights.

Raffle tickets will be available for purchase throughout the morning for a chance to win a large basket filled with the different flavors of the market donated by the market vendors.  A drawing will be held at noon.  You do not have to be present to win.

Davidson County Master Gardener Volunteers will help with the event and will be on hand to answer questions about growing tomatoes or other gardening issues.

The Lexington Farmers Market is at the old depot on Railroad Street across from Southern Lunch Restaurant. The market is open every Saturday through mid-October 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.  For more information, visit the Facebook page or website www.lexingtonfarmersmarketnc.com.

This is the winning recipe from 2015:

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

4 slices Italian bread, stale

4 large, firm, ripe tomatoes 8-10oz. each

Salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4cup fresh basil

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp. fresh grated parmesan

1 oz. prosciutto, crisped and broken into small pieces

Black pepper to taste

1/4 cup pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Place 1 oz. sheet of prosciutto on parchment paper lined pan and bake for 12 minutes.  Cool and break into small pieces, set aside.  Turn oven to 400.

Tear bread into small pieces and process in blender to make fine crumbs.  Set aside.

Slice top one-fourth of each tomato.  Use a spoon to remove seeds and liquid, leaving the fleshy walls around each cavity.  Sprinkle insides with salt and let stand upside down in colander for about 30 minutes to drain.

In frying pan over medium low, warm olive oil and saute garlic about 40 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in basil, parsley, parmesan and prosciutto. Stir in bread crumbs until well mixed. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if needed.

Place tomatoes upright in small baking dish.  Spoon the crumb mixture into tomatoes, rounding the tops and sprinkling pine nuts on last.  Bake 30 to 45 minutes until the tomatoes are light golden and tender.  Serve warm.

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