I'm headed out of town later this week for a conference (in Austin!), and as I checked out my garden this weekend, I got a little worried about my tomatoes. The plants are filled with green fruits, but they are also showing developing signs of late blight, the fungus that is wreaking havoc on crops throughout New England, thanks to the crazy wet weather we've had this summer. I wanted to make sure that I got to use at least some of my tomatoes, because who knows what they'll look like when I get back from my trip.
So I harvested a few of the tomatoes (probably only 1/20th of what's out there, though), as well as some Japanese eggplants ("Are they supposed to look like that?" my brother asked. Yes, yes they are.), basil, parsley, and scallions. I combined a few different recipes that I found online to form what I think is one damn good fried tomato. The combination of flour, buttermilk, and panko breadcrumbs created a tender, crispy crust while keeping the tomato and eggplant fresh. Another plus? It didn't soak up a lot of oil during frying, so it was light and not greasy.
Fried Green Tomatoes (and Eggplant) with Buttermilk Dressing
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, divided
juice of 3 limes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
2 sprigs of basil, minced
2 sprigs of parsley, minced
1 scallion, minced
1/2 tsp salt
2 large green tomatoes
1 large or 2 small Japanese eggplants
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning mix
Vegetable oil for frying
In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup buttermilk, lime juice, olive oil, honey. basil, parsley, scallion, and salt and whisk together. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Slice tomatoes and eggplant into 1/3-inch thick slices. Arrange three bowls for the coating process - one for the flour, one for 1 cup of buttermilk, and one for the panko and Cajun seasoning (mix the seasoning into the panko to evenly distribute). Dredge slices in flour (shaking off extra flour), dip in buttermilk, then coat with panko. Coat all slices before beginning to fry.
In a large pan, heat about 1/2 an inch of vegetable oil over medium-low heat until it just begins to bubble. Cook tomatoes and eggplant in batches until golden brown on both sides. Do not crowd the pan. Drain on papertowels before serving. If needed, you can keep the cooked tomatoes and eggplant in the oven on the lowest setting (about 200°) until all the batches are done. Serve with dressing.