Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"them's RIPE tomatoes, son."

fried green tomatoes. those words conjure up thoughts of kathy bates movies, or seedy southern restaurants that serve deep fried, almost blackened and soggy tomato like substances.

the movie, really did nothing for me at all in glamorizing actually made me leery of eating any form of bbq rib meat from a restaurant in fear that i was eating some poor soul who did unsavory things to the chef or one of his friends.

but i suppose it did make my overly active mind want to try fried green tomatoes at SOME point. the first ones i tried at a decent southern establishment, were of course, fried and beautifully tasty. but in an effort to save my hips, i searched for better ways to make them at home, and maybe have them come close to tasting like the ever fattening delights.

my mom served the first oven fried variety to me, and i was instantly hooked.

so, funny story. and of course, off track just a little. feel free to skim to the recipe at any time.

i purchase 4 beautiful green tomatoes from the local farmer's market, along with red tomatoes and other veggies. the green ones were only meant for ONE thing. oven fried green tomatoes. my yearly summer craving (and sometimes winter, fall, and spring craving). i lined them up, all pretty in a green row, along the top of my microwave, where i place all my non-refrigerated goodies.

a few days later, when i went to assess the green tomatoes, they were gone! i only had one solitary green one. i was so astounded and perturbed that i set out to accuse every person i knew of being a tomato thief. i thought perhaps the kids had mistaken them for apples, had taken a bite, and had tossed them into the garbage, thinking they were bad. they swore they did not know where they were. i called my husband, to see if he had done anything with them. he didn't have a clue. i started running through a guest list in my head. the birthday cookout we had for my husband a day or so before. yes! one of those ruffians had stolen the other three green tomatoes.

i called my mother to tell her my quandary. she calmly said, "how many RED tomatoes do you have?"

"huh?", said i.

oh my goodness. yes, that's right. the other three had turned red. slap myself upon my brow!

so the lesson here: best to not accuse your friends of stealing your tomatoes. you will look like a dum dum.

so tonight, we had one oven fried green tomato and three oven fried red tomatoes. and actually, i have found that i almost prefer the red tomatoes better than the green!

Oven Fried Green Red Tomatoes

1. start by marinating your tomato slices in buttermilk and freshly ground pepper for about an hour to 3 hours. you can skip the marinating step, but it does make them that much tastier.

2. make a dredging mix. equal parts white cornmeal, course yellow corn meal, and unbleached white flour (about 1/3 cup each), and add a teaspoon of pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/8-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you want it). mix well.

3. take each tomato slice directly from the buttermilk and lightly cover each one with the mix, being sure to tap off any excess.

4. line each piece up, being careful not to let them touch, on a non-stick cookie sheet. spray olive oil or other non-stick spray on each piece, top and bottom.

5. bake at 375 for about 45 minutes (or until brown and crispy on the outside), turning them after about 30. you can leave them as such, or after the turn you can add a little kick with some pinches of goat cheese. (i have a small love affair with goat cheese and will put it on just about anything to satiate my lustings). my family does NOT share the same sentiment, so i only added the goat cheese to half.

6. top with either a pasta sauce (which is what we had on hand, leftover from a spaghetti night), or make a red pepper sauce: roast some red peppers with olive oil and garlic, then blend it up with a wee bit o' cream to make a wondermous covering. i served mine tonight with a cornbread salad and some grapes.

cornbread salad is usually my summer salad staple. it is more filling than the standard lettuce based variety and i think it lends well to most meat dishes. it can easily be eaten as a light lunch as well.

typically i would add tomatoes to the salad to give some color boost, but left them out tonight for obvious reasons. this salad also looks particularly beautiful in a glass bowl, with all the different color variants visible, or in smaller mason jars for individual picnic fare.

Cornbread Salad

1.start by crumbling some day old cornbread in the bottom of a medium dish. it is best if the cornbread has been left to dry all day or night on the counter. it will absorb the flavors a bit more. but fresh, cooled cornbread can also be used last minute.

2. next, find various sorts of colorful raw veggies to layer. i love the colors of red onions, yellow or red peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, some sharp cheddar cheese, yellow squash, corn, or zucchini. using at least one color from each color group looks the best.

3. chop and layer these on top of the cornbread, with the last being the cheese. top with a white style dressing like mayo, or yogurt mixed with herbs, or ranch dressing. don't mix until ready to serve.

i hope you take the time to enjoy some simple summer indulgences this year. and, enjoy some tomatoes a little extra for me!

1 comment:

  1. ha ha ha...

    That story just made my week! Every time I hear it, I laugh out loud again.



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