Years ago my husband and I went fishing with my father and one of his friends off the Florida coast. During the trip, my father’s friend pulled out a plastic bag with tomato slices submerged in their own juices. The tomatoes, from his garden, had been sliced and salted earlier that morning and hours later they were at the height of flavor. We ate them with our fingers and to this day my husband and I agree that they were the best tomatoes we’ve ever eaten.
Since then I’ve been on a quest to find the very best summer tomatoes. Each spring, I hope to work my own magic as I plant an assortment of tomatoes in my summer garden. As I wait for them to grow, my search takes me to farmer’s market in an quixotic search to recreate that one perfect bite.
I’ve eaten some pretty good tomatoes this summer, but I’m still waiting for my own garden crop to yield results. Blame it on the hot temperatures, but the fruit was slow to set and now, as my tomatoes are laden with firm green fruit, they also seem slow to ripen.
No matter. When life hands you lots of green tomatoes, the best thing to do is fry them. And then add them to a regular tomato sandwich with some bacon and fresh spinach to make the ultimate summer lunch. Happy cooking!
The Ultimate Tomato Sandwich – Printer Friendly Recipe
Good bread, Duke’s mayonnaise, and the best tomatoes you can find are what you need to make a good tomato sandwich. Add fried green tomatoes, bacon, and fresh spinach to the mix and you’ve got the ultimate summer lunch.
For the fried green tomatoes:
2 medium green tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal (not self-rising)
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground red “cayenne” pepper
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup all purpose flour
about 1 ½ cups canola oil for frying
For the sandwich:
8 slices homemade bread (my preference is for sourdough)
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach
8 slices cooked bacon
Duke’s Mayonnaise, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and place a wire rack on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Set aside. Place the buttermilk in a small bowl and place the flour on a small plate.
Pour the canola oil into a high-sided, medium skillet until it is about ¼-inch deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is about 325 degrees (when a few crumbles of cornmeal are added to the hot oil bubbles should immediately form around them).
Working with one slice of tomato at a time, dredge the tomato slices in the flour and shake off any excess. Dip the tomato slices in the buttermilk and then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture. Set tomatoes on a plate until all the slices have been breaded.
Fry the tomatoes in 2-3 batches (the oil should come about halfway up the side of the tomato slices) until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Carefully remove the fried green tomatoes with a slotted spatula and set on the wire rack. Keep tomato slices warm in the oven until all the tomato slices have been fried.
To assemble the sandwich, spread mayonnaise on four slices of bread and top with fresh tomato slices. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add spinach, fried green tomatoes and bacon to each sandwich and top with the remaining slice of bread. Cut in half and serve immediately.