January 25, 2007

Southern Comfort

I don't know if you've heard or not, but it's been cold in California, really, really cold. When it gets like this, my body goes into hibernation preparation mode and demands warm, filling foods to prepare me for the long winter ahead. (The readers who live where it snows are scoffing at me now, but I'm a Southern Cali girl, I've only been in the snow once. Freezing cold weather is not good for the citrus, avocados or me)

It's traditional in the American South to harvest green tomatoes before the first freeze or even if you have too many growing during the summer. Because we live in sunny, usually freakishly warm California, we have tomatoes almost year round at the Farmers' Market. However, since the frost a lot of people harvested their tomatoes early and brought the remainder of the crops, still green, to sell. It's a hard job, but someone needs to help those farmers make good on a somewhat disappointing crop.

Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches with Chipotle Spread, adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

While I was making these, I realized that if one, who is of the pork-eating persuasion, added bacon to this it would make a good winter-time BLT.

1/2 cup mayonnaise (if its not homemade, I highly recommend the organic mayo from TJ's)
3/4 cup non-fat yogurt
2 chipotles, finely chopped
juice from 1/2 lime
1 large green tomato, sliced thickly
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
3 TB veg oil
6 slices sourdough bread
lettuce leaves

Combine mayo, yogurt, chipotles and lime juice in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour cornmeal onto a plate. Salt and pepper. Mix well. Using one hand as your clean hand and the other as your messy hand, coat both sides of the tomato slices in cornmeal. Set aside.

Heat veg oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat, when hot, add tomatoes. Fry until lightly browned, about 6 minutes per side. Line a plate with paper towels. When the tomatoes are done cooking, place them on the plate.

Toast bread. When cool enough to handle, spread chipotle mixture on toast. Line one side with lettuce and place tomatoes on the other. We all understand the mechanics of making a sandwich, yes?

Makes 3 sandwiches

If you're feeling particularly in need of comfort serve with oven fries.

Oven Fries

3/4 lb potatoes (I like Yukon Golds)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F.

Slice potatoes into fry-like shapes. Toss in a large bowl with as much olive oil as you can in good conscience consume, with salt pepper and/or any other seasoning that strikes your fancy. I like smoked paprika or seasoned salt.

Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in oven for 15 minutes, or until the side touching the pan is browned to your liking. Very carefully, flip fries over and return to oven for about another 15 minutes. Serve with extra chipotle sauce for dipping.

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