Summer’s days have dwindled down to a precious few but still the garden lingers on. Much to my husband’s dismay, there’s still a few zucchini hiding under the drooping plant leaves. I’m the only one who swoons when it’s steamed with a little onion, sprinkled with melted cheese and herbs. Zucchini and green tomatoes he can do without.
Green tomatoes are also lurking amidst the ripe, bug-eaten ones of late summer. Fried green tomatoes are a relatively new once-a-year treasure in our household. I grew up on Southern cooking but for some reason fried green tomatoes were never on the menu. My grandpa always picked only the red ones.
Since moving to Oregon, I’ve discovered that not all of the tomatoes will ripen before winter sets in. So, although we don’t eat many fried foods at our house anymore, once a year we eat fried green tomatoes. Chuck samples them but really doesn’t understand why I bother.
The reason is simple. I can’t stand to see the green ones go to waste. And truth be told, until now, my recipe has been pretty plain and boring. But now I’ve discovered the queen of fried green tomatoes recipes. The exterior is crunchy, the interior is a soft, tart contrast and the Buttermilk-Lime Dressing takes them from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Now if you’re shaking your head saying, “No way am I eating green tomatoes,” I say, “Try them!” What have you got to lose besides tomatoes that were going into the compost pile anyway? Just pretend that they’re healthy. You know, the last (fried) green salad of summer. Enjoy!
3 pounds green tomatoes (6-8 medium)
3 large eggs, beaten
¾ cup whole milk
3 cups peanut oil
3 batches Lee Bros. All-Purpose Fry Dredge (recipe follows)
Kosher salt, if needed
Lemon juice, if needed
½ cup flour
3 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper together twice. Stir and turn out onto a flat surface.
¾ cup whole or lowfat buttermilk
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice (3-4 limes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup fresh basil, finely minced
¼ cup green onion, finely minced
¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, finely minced
½ teaspoon salt, more if needed
In a small bowl, whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator not more than 2 days.
First prepare the Buttermilk-Lime Dressing and refrigerate.
Next, prepare the dredge and set aside.
Cut the stem ends from the tomatoes and slice ¼-inch thick with a serrated knife. Set aside. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a broad, shallow bowl.
Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet, heat over medium-high heat until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 365° F. (If using a different size skillet or pan, fill with oil to a depth of 1/3-inch.)
Heat oven to 225 F. Set a bakers rack on a cookie sheet on the top rack.
Press 1 tomato slice into the dredge, once on each side, shaking any excess loose. Dunk in the egg mixture, then dredge the slice on both sides again. Shake off any excess and place the slice on a clean plate. Repeat with more slices until you’ve dredged enough for a batch (3-4 slices). With a spatula, transfer the first batch of slices to the oil.
As the first batch cooks, dredge the second batch of tomatoes, keeping a watchful eye on the first. Once the slices have fried to a rich golden brown on one side, flip them carefully and fry for 2 minutes more, or until golden brown. Transfer the fried tomatoes to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels and to drain for 1 minute.
Transfer the slices to the baker’s rack in the oven, arranging them in a single layer, so they remain warm and crisp. Repeat with the remaining slices until all the green tomatoes have been fried. Serve immediately with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing.