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BLT gets late-summer boost from fried green tomatoes

With some of the most robust tomato plants I’ve seen, my garden should be a bounty of edibles.

But Southern Oregon’s delayed start to summer and the season’s early end amid wildfire smoke has kept most of the fruits from ripening. The garden’s indeterminate varieties are still loaded with green tomatoes that likely stand little chance of reddening on the vine.

I can still hold out hope for the few orange specimens on the vines, but mornings have been so cold the past couple of days, I’m already considering cutting our losses with some green tomato chutney and fried green tomatoes.

For anyone craving a BLT when no ripe tomatoes are to be had, there’s this version that incorporates fried green tomatoes. The classic Southern specialty is even more appealing with bacon and herbed mayonnaise, courtesy of Tribune News Service.

Fried Green Tomato BLT With Herbed Mayo

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon chopped basil

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped chives

Freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

4 slices thick-cut bacon

2 or 3 unripe green tomatoes, sliced about 1/3-inch thin

Vegetable or canola oil, for frying

4 thick slices good bread

Green lettuce leaves or a handful of arugula

Place the mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Add the herbs and stir to combine. Season to taste with pepper and salt; set aside.

In a shallow bowl, stir together the cornmeal and 1/2 cup of the flour; season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a second shallow bowl, stir together the eggs and buttermilk until well combined; set aside. Place remaining 1 cup flour in a third shallow bowl.

Place bacon strips in a cold skillet, preferably cast-iron. Cook on medium-low heat, turning bacon occasionally with tongs so it cooks evenly until bacon is crispy. Remove from pan to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Alternatively, bake bacon strips in a 350-degree oven until desired degree of crispiness, for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Dredge the tomato slices in bowl of flour, then dip in egg mixture and finally in cornmeal-flour mixture, pressing slices with your fingers to help them adhere. Transfer slices to a wax paper-lined plate.

In a large skillet (preferably cast-iron), heat 1/4 inch of the oil until shimmering. Add tomatoes and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and crisp, for about 5 minutes. Drain tomatoes on paper towels.

Toast the bread slices in toaster until lightly browned. Spread 1 side of each slice with herbed mayonnaise. Compose sandwich by layering the lettuce, fried tomato slices and then bacon on a bottom slice of bread. Close sandwich with a top slice of bread, cut in half and serve.

Makes 2 sandwiches.

Tribune News Service photo