There are a lot of foods that I disliked as a kid that I’ve since changed my mind about: bananas, juice (yeah I was a strange kid), sweet potatoes, some pies…
There are also foods I insist I will never like: raisins, black licorice flavored anything, tomato juice, plain raw tomatoes, basically any tomato that isn’t fresh from my parents’ garden or chopped up into salsa…
Come to think of it, tomatoes are somewhere in the middle for me. While I love tomato sauce (Italian, duh) and salsa, the thought of plain tomato soup or tomato juice makes me queasy.
But maybe it’s not so crazy that I don’t like tomatoes. Apparently, the DNA in grocery store tomatoes has actually been mutated so much that they are huge, but they are also completely watery and nothing like real tomatoes anymore. Those tomatoes are not the business.
When my parents started growing their own tomatoes, I saw what they could be: meaty, sweet, no sign of mealyness…Actually edible.
T-Man shares my disdain for tomatoes, except he is not as accepting of even the fresh ones. (Though his dislike of tomatoes doesn’t come close to his dislike of the dreaded BEANS, which is the worst.)
So he was in for it when I spotted these at the Farmer’s Market last week:
Green heirloom tomatoes.
He was really in for it.
My work was cut out for me.
I wasn’t even sure if I’D like them.
Holy hell, did we like them.
It took some work but since he had most of the day off, T-Man was helped me assemble everything!
This was when I started getting excited. They looked so pretty!
It was my birthday weekend, so I felt no guilt about the fried food. Calories don’t exist on birthdays.
The outside was so crunchy, and the tomato inside had so much (non-tomato) flavor!
The spicy buttermilk ranch was seeeriously the icing on the cake.
And my reward from T-Man for a job well done:
Fried Green Tomato BLTs
makes 2 sandwiches, with a few leftover tomato slices (for dunking!)
FOR THE TOMATOES
2 medium firm green tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp green hot sauce (use your favorite kind)
1/2 cup cornmeal (I used polenta)
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
salt & pepper
cayenne pepper or chile powder
canola oil, for frying
FOR THE SANDWICHES
2 extra large slices sourdough bread, cut in half
1 cup arugula or spinach
4 slices bacon
Spicy Buttermilk Ranch Sauce
1/2 packet ranch dressing mix (~3 tsp)
4 oz (half a container) of sour cream
1/2 tsp green hot sauce (use your favorite kind)
1 tbsp buttermilk
First, prepare the sauce. Combine first 3 ingredients, then add buttermilk until it is your desired consistency. Thicker if you’re using it as a spread on the sandwich, thinner if you’re just using it as a dipping sauce. Set aside in fridge.
Next, create your tomato assembly line. Put flour and seasonings on a plate, then buttermilk, egg & taco sauce in a bowl, followed by cornmeal, breadcrumbs & more seasonings on the last plate. It’s important to include seasoning! Dredge tomatoes in flour, tap off the excess, then into the wet batter, then press into the cornmeal, making sure all sides are coated. The best way to do this is to use one hand to handle wet ingredients and one hand for dry ingredients. Feel free to add more dry ingredients if needed. Repeat until finished. Set aside tomatoes on a large plate or baking sheet while you assemble the sandwiches.
Fry bacon to desired crispiness, then set aside on a paper towel lined plate. If you want to be really decadent, discard all but 1 tbsp of bacon grease and use what’s left to toast your bread. If not, just toast it!
Finally, fry your tomatoes! Cover the bottom of your pan with a layer of canola oil. Heat until a tiny crumb of cornmeal/breadcrumb sizzles when dropped in the pan. I had 8 tomato slices and did it in 2 batches. I fried them for about 2 minutes on each side, but your stove might be different. Check frequently to ensure they don’t burn! Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Spread the ranch sauce on one side of the toasted bread. On the other, layer your arugula/spinach, followed by 2 tomato slices (or however many fit), and bacon. Then, dig in!
Then, after he helps you make a food that you forced him to eat because he previously thought he could never like tomatoes but hey maybe he’ll like it fried up in cornmeal, annoy your boyfriend while he tries to work:
Here’s to trying new things!