Fried Green Tomato Sandwich with Goat Cheese

Being the ignorant Northerner that I am, I always thought that green tomatoes were transformed at the beginning of the season into fried green tomatoes because nobody could wait for those first tomatoes to ripen. I have been enlightened by my Southern friends and now understand that these tomatoes are actually harvested at the end of the season out of fear of the upcoming frost. I am happy to eat them at either end of the season, particularly gilded with Vidalia onions (pronounced VIE DAY LI A please; I got corrected on my Northern pronunciation too by several Southern viewers), mozzarella, and a little herb mayonnaise.

Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: about 30 minutes
Total preparation time: 30 minutes

3 large green tomatoes (10 to 12 ounces each)
Kosher salt
Quick Herb Sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 large sweet onion
8 ounces soft goat cheese
Freshly milled black pepper
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, sliced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
8 slices country bread, toasted

Trim off and discard a thin slice from each end of the tomatoes. Cut each tomato into 4 slices. Sprinkle the slices on both sides with salt, using about 1/2 teaspoon total; drain in a colander 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the Quick Herb Sauce, thinly slice the onion and slice the goat cheese 1/3-inch thick (use unflavored dental floss).

Pat the tomato slices dry, season with pepper, and dip in cornmeal to coat on both sides. Heat the oil with the garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until hot and the garlic just begins to turn golden; discard the garlic and set aside half the oil. Increase the heat to medium-high and brown half the tomatoes on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Repeat with he reserved oil and tomatoes.

Spread half of the Quick Herb Sauce over 4 slices toasted bread. Top with onion, goat cheese, fried tomatoes, remaining herb sauce, and remaining bread. Slice each sandwich in half and serve.

Quick Herb Sauce: Combine 1/2 cup packed, rinsed, and dried fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons packed, rinsed, and dried fresh parsley leaves, 1 scallion (white and light green parts), coarsely chopped, 1/2 large garlic clove, minced, and 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest in a blender and puree until very smooth. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

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