Monday, October 25, 2010

"Only Two Things Money Can't Buy...

...that's true love and home-grown tomatoes."

Or maybe fried green tomatoes, since I'm not sure they're worth eating if the tomatoes aren't home-grown. But oh, when they are!

Fried green tomatoes are actually pretty simple. You start with unripe tomatoes (no, green tomatoes aren't some special breed, they're just plain old unripe tomatoes), and you really do want them bright green. Once fried, the sourness that makes an unripe tomato all but inedible becomes tamed into tart deliciousness.

Last weekend I noticed that our tomato plants, even though clearly dying off, were still pretty full of green tomatoes. A home-grown tomato is a thing of such rare beauty that it's positively criminal to waste even one - even one green one - so I started picking. I just couldn't bear to see them go to waste, so even though the only fried green tomatoes I'd ever had were in restaurants (and nothing to write home about, at that), I decided to pull out the trusty cast iron skillet and fry away. About a half an hour (and a few blisters I dubbed "the revenge of the fried green tomatoes") later, I discovered what I'd been missing all those years (and the perfect thing to do with those last, end-of-season tomatoes).

Fried Green Tomatoes and a Dressing-That's-Not-That-Bad-For-You

green tomatoes
granulated onion or onion powder
corn meal (whole-grain and preferably fine-sifted)
bacon grease or lard

Cut the stem out of your tomatoes and slice them about ¼ inch thick.

Lay the slices out on paper towels and sprinkle fairly liberally with salt, black pepper, and granulated onion. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes.

In one shallow bowl or rimmed plate, pour some buttermilk, and in another put a half cup of cornmeal.

Heat your skillet with about ¼ inch of grease to 350°.

Dip your tomato slices in the buttermilk and then coat them in the cornmeal. (I just lay the slices in the buttermilk so one side gets coated, and then I don't wash the seasoning off the top. But both sides get coated with the cornmeal.) Sit them aside on wax paper until your ready to cook them.

Place the tomatoes in the hot grease (carefully! preferably with tongs, as this is where I got blisters from a big pop of the grease). Cook them about 2 minutes on each side and them remove then to a paper towel lined plate.

They are wonderful alone, but also delicious with the following dressing I concocted:

The Dressing-That's-Not-That-Bad-For-You

¼ cup fat-free Greek yogurt
¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise (I wouldn't touch anything but Hellman's or Duke's)
¼ cup buttermilk
2 tsp Texas Pete hot sauce
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 green onions, minced (or 1 tsp + granulated onion)
fresh-ground black pepper to taste 

Combine and for best results refrigerate overnight.