A nice caprese salad with tomatoes and mozzarella is a beautiful thing. Frying both components just makes the whole thing even better.
By Jennifer Abbott
- 1 large green tomato, sliced into 4 rounds
- 1 8-oz ball fresh mozzarella cheese, ends trimmed off, sliced into 4 rounds (the chef gets to snack on the trimmings)
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or any combination of dried herbs & spices that you like (dried basil would be particularly nice)*
- salt and pepper
- 4 to 8 tablespoons of butter, olive oil, or a combination
- 1 large ripe tomato (or 10 or 12 ripe cherry tomatoes), roughly chopped
- a few fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Beat the eggs with about 1 tablespoon of water in a shallow dish. Combine the flour, cornmeal, and seasoning (or dried herbs) in another shallow dish. Add salt and pepper to the flour mixture if your seasoning isn't salty or spicy--you know your seasoning--so do whatever needs to be done for good flavor in the finished product.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of butter (or oil) in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dip tomato slices in egg, then in flour mixture (press the flour down somewhat so it sticks to the slices). Add them to the skillet and cook about 3 or 4 minutes on each side, turning once, until crispy and light golden brown. You may need to adjust the heat as you're frying to keep them from burning but still maintain a nice sizzle. Drain the tomatoes on a paper towel-lined plate.
- If there's still a good amount of fat in the pan, just use that to fry the cheese. If you think you might need more, add it now and let it heat up. Dredge the mozzarella slices just like you did the tomatoes--eggs, then flour mixture. Add them to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until light golden brown, turning once. The cheese will probably start oozing out the sides of the breading, but that's a good thing, in my opinion. If you use a nonstick skillet and don't worry too much about keeping them pretty, they'll turn out just fine. Drain them briefly on paper towels as well.
- On a large plate, alternate slices of fried tomatoes and cheese, overlapping slightly. In the hole in the center of the plate, pile the fresh tomato pieces. Drizzle the vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil over the fresh tomatoes. Sprinkle about a ½ teaspoon of salt over the fresh tomatoes, grind lots of black pepper over everything (fresh tomatoes and fried things), and sprinkle fresh basil over the top. Serve it as soon as you can so the cheese is still soft and warm.
Jennifer Abbott is a writer, music teacher, Southern food enthusiast, and soup aficionado. She lives in New Orleans and blogs about cooking and dining at Food Orleans.