One of my favorite things about traveling is experiencing new food and then coming home and re-creating it. A few weeks ago I visited one of my best friends in Miami and on my last night we went to her favorite restaurant, Yardbird. It has a hipster, Southern vibe and reminded me of Nashville. Yardbird is popular and the wait can be long, but we scored a shared table with a couple from Canada and it was fun to bond over our Winter survival stories.
We were traditional in our ordering and got fried green tomatoes, a platter of fried chicken, grilled romaine lettuce with cheese, and unsweetened iced teas with fresh peach puree. I decided to re-create the fried green tomatoes and took inspiration from Southern Living. This is something I would not typically order and I had never had fried green tomatoes before, but that’s what traveling is all about. This is not an everyday indulgence, but I can guarantee you will want to throw out a few ‘Y’alls’ after eating this meal.
I served a large green salad on the side to make myself feel better about the ‘fried’ part. Photos below are from my trip – I didn’t think to capture photos when I experimented with making this, so I’ll have to make fried green tomatoes again soon. The lightened up version was just as good, if not better, than Yardbird’s. Feel free to leave off the pimento cheese or the bacon topping. I also added a handful of arugula to the tops of mine for a little color.
Libby’s Lightened Up Fried Green Tomatoes
Inspired by Southern Living
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
16 (1/4-inch-thick) slices green tomato (about 4 tomatoes)
7 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk, divided
3 tablespoons mayo (I used mayo with olive oil)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3/4 cup panko
1/3 cup masa harina (it’s a yellow corn flour – Bob’s Red Mill brand makes it)
1 large egg and 1 large egg white
¼ cup flour
Combine the water, 1 cup vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes. Drain tomatoes and pat dry.
Combine 5 tablespoons buttermilk and next 5 ingredients (through garlic), stirring with a whisk. Eyeball some ground pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add panko to pan; cook 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in masa harina, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the panko mixture in a shallow dish.
Combine the remaining two tablespoons buttermilk, egg, and egg white, stirring with a whisk. Place flour in another shallow dish. Dredge tomato slices in flour; dip in egg mixture, and dredge in panko mixture, turning to coat. You will have three steps and dishes to dip: two dry and one wet. Flour is first, then the egg, then the panko.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil to the pan, then add half of tomatoes and cook for four minutes. Coat tops of tomatoes with cooking spray, turn, and add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan. Cook 4 minutes or until golden. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes.
Recipe via Bobby Dean
1 (3-ounce) package of light cream cheese
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 cup grated Monterey Jack
1/2 cup mayo (I used the olive oil kind)
Eyeball salt and pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons pimentos, smashed
1 teaspoon grated onion
Use an electric mixer to whip all of the ingredients together and place a spoonful on top of each tomato slice, as well as a few pieces of bacon. Leftover pimento cheese can be eaten with veggies and crackers.