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Dinner and a Movie: Fried Green Tomatoes

Remember the movie Fried Green Tomatoes with Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates?  Well I hadn’t seen it since its debut in 1991, so when my daughters asked me what it was about while searching through Netflix,  I told them I really couldn’t remember, but I knew that I liked it, and thought it would make a could pick for our family movie night.

Since we planned to watch the movie together, I thought it would be fun to make some fried green tomatoes for dinner to go along with our theme for the evening. Though my kids really preferred the traditional version of fried green tomatoes dipped in a buttermilk/ranch type dressing, my husband and I really enjoyed this version, with the flavors of fresh corn, basil, crab, and roasted red peppers.

The combination of the crisp, corn meal crusted exterior, and the warm,  tangy interior of the tomatoes make them hard to resist, no matter how you eat them; that’s one thing we all agreed.

Though I usually wait to make fried green tomatoes until I have  end- of -the season green tomatoes left on the vine, I’m glad I plucked a few early to make this dish. They were a welcomed treat. And the movie? Just as wonderful as I had remembered, with a storyline the whole family enjoyed.

For the Corn & Avocado Relish:

Kernels from 4 ears of corn

1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, diced

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup basil leaves (I used purpled ruffled leafed basil) cut into chiffonade

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.

For Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Coulis:

2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded

2 large plum tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Place peppers and tomatoes directly on grill rack and grill until skin on peppers and tomatoes chars and begins to blister, about 10 minutes. Remove from grill; cool slightly, and remove skin from peppers and tomatoes. Chop and place in blender. Add remaining ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Reserve at room temperature until ready to serve.

For the tomatoes:

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 large unripe tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, ends removed

1/2 cup canola oil

1 pound lump crab meat

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, garlic powder, and cayenne together. Pour the buttermilk into a separate bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dip the tomatoes in the buttermilk and then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture, coating both sides well.

Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, pan-fry the tomatoes (in batches if necessary) until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Carefully remove the tomatoes and drain on paper towels.

Assembly:

Have the relish and coulis prepared and ready to go, so that when you are finished frying the tomatoes, your assembly will be quick, allowing the tomatoes to stay warm and crisp.

Spoon 3 tablespoons of the coulis onto serving plate. Place one fried green tomato atop coulis. Spoon 1/4 of crab onto tomato slice. Top with second tomato slice. Spoon 1/4 cup corn/avocado relish over 2nd tomato slice. Top with 3rd tomato slice and garnish with additional relish.

Repeat with remaining ingredients.

4 servings

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