With tomato plants still producing, we can rush things along by picking some of those luscious orbs while still green.
Green tomatoes, sliced, dusted with cornmeal and pan fried, are a much anticipated treat for lots of folks, especially those with roots in the South, where fried green tomatoes are a staple.
If you've never made fried green tomatoes before, here is a recipe to get you started:
Fried Green Tomatoes
3 pounds green tomatoes (about 6 to 8 medium)
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 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
Cut out the stem ends from the tomatoes and slice them 1/4 -inch thick with a serrated tomato or bread knife; reserve. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a broad, shallow bowl.
Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 365 degrees. (If using a different size skillet or pan, fill with oil to a depth of 1/3 inch.)
Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Set a cooling rack on a cookie sheet and place on the top rack of the oven.
Spread the dredge on a large plate or pie pan or in a small, shallow baking pan. Taste the tomatoes. They should have a bright tartness like citrus fruit. If they don't, sprinkle the slices with salt and lemon juice. Then 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 or 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, but keep a watchful eye on the first. Once the slices have fried to a rich golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes, flip them carefully and fry for 2 minutes more, or until golden brown. Drain the fried tomatoes on a paper-towel lined plate.
Transfer the slices to the cooling 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 right away with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing (recipe follows).
Makes 6 servings.
All-Purpose Fry Dredge
1/2 cup all-purpose 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.
Makes 3/4 cup (1 batch).
Note: Add a sprinkling of bread crumbs if using dredge for fish or oysters for quick browning.
3/4 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk (preferably whole)
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil
1/4 cup finely minced green onions
1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
In a small bowl, whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator not more than two days.
Makes 1 1/4 cups.
(Adapted from "The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook," Matt Lee and Ted Lee.)