It’s peak tomato season, so my breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours have been dominated by the juicy fruit of the moment. But in this sea of tomato perfection, there are bound to be a few stragglers. A few hard green holdouts, if you will. Your knee-jerk reaction may be to find these late bloomers in a cozy space on a window sill and wait for them to slowly blush. But I have another more immediate alternative – this Fried Green Tomato Salad with Figs and Halloumi. Paired with a creamy Chive Buttermilk Dressing this salad is less of a salad and more of a late summer treat. So let’s get into it!
When I was growing up, a green tomato was never something to be upset about. My grandmother would turn the tart and tough fruit into chow chow – a sort of green tomato relish that’s very common in Nova Scotia. It’s the ideal companion to a crisp and golden fish cake, just saying. But where we see chow chow, the Southern United States sees Fried Green Tomatoes. Slices of green tomato dunked in flour, buttermilk, egg, and cornmeal fried to golden perfection.
While fried green tomatoes weren’t something I grew up with, I’m happy to report they have found their way here. From my local brewery’s brunch BLT to diner specials, the fried green tomato is alive and well in Toronto. And to say I’ve been making up for lost time would be an understatement. You cannot stop me from ordering them once I see them on a menu.
The magic of a fried green tomato is its tartness and firmness. Two attributes that are generally considered drawbacks for tomatoes. But here, the firmness helps the tomato slices withstand the breading and frying process without losing their shape. And the tartness brings the perfect sour note to the crunchy vaguely sweet breading. Weaknesses become strengths when given the proper context. How’s that for a metaphor for life? It’s a lesson worth learning.
Fried green tomatoes are surprisingly easy to prepare. I mean, they can be a little messy, as with all things battered. But if you’re intimidated, don’t be. These are dead simple. Start by slicing your tomatoes. Make sure your slices are a little on the beefy side. We want the tomato to have a presence. If we slice it too thin, we’ll just have a disc of batter with a whisper of tomato. Working with a slice at a time, roll the tomato in a little flour, then a buttermilk and egg concoction, followed by a little more flour and cornmeal. Make sure you add fresh ground pepper to the cornmeal, which really sets the whole thing off.
Now, fried green tomatoes are a thing of beauty all on their own, but when paired with seared halloumi, fresh figs, and juicy tomato, well you have a party on your hands. The saltiness of the halloumi and the sweetness of the figs really balance each other out. A few choice leaves of baby gem lettuce act as the perfect counterbalance to all the big, bold, and heavy textures and flavors. And let’s not forget about that dressing. Wait! We haven’t even touched on the dressing. That’s just so wrong!
This Fried Green Tomato Salad is a textural symphony all on its own but its accompanying Chive Buttermilk Dressing really ties the whole dish together. This dressing comes together in a snap in a food processor and features buttermilk, mayo, garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, and of course, chives. I love the soft green color it takes on. And honestly, it’s so delicious I could drink it. I have a feeling it would go with a multitude of salads as well, so if you find yourself with leftovers I promise you’ll find a way to use them. I don’t think you’ll have leftovers, though.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Fried Green Tomato Salad with Figs and Halloumi. Given the lack of leafy greens and the abundance of golden crispy things, I’m not sure this qualifies as a salad. In reality, this is more than a salad, this is a love letter to the waning days of summer.
Fried Green Tomato Salad with Figs and Halloumi
- 1 Large Cast Iron Skillet
- 1 Food Processor
Creamy Chive Buttermilk Dressing
- ½ cup mayo
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- 15g (0.5oz) fresh chives
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
Fried Green Tomatoes
- ½ cup all-purpose flour divided
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 tsp salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 2 large green tomatoes sliced
- ½ cup neutral oil I used canola
Fried Green Tomato Salad
- 1 brick halloumi sliced
- 1 head baby gem lettuce torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 batch fried green tomatoes
- 4-5 figs sliced
- 1 heirloom tomato coarsely chopped
- ⅓ cup green olives drained
- Place all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and blitz until very smooth. Pour the dressing into a small jug and chill until ready to use.½ cup mayo, ⅓ cup buttermilk, 1 clove garlic, 15g (0.5oz) fresh chives, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 tsp honey, 1 tsp salt
- Pour half of the flour into a small shallow vessel. Set it aside. In a separate bow whisk to combine the buttermilk and the egg. Set it aside as well.½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup buttermilk, 1 egg
- In a large shallow vessel, like a pie plate, whisk to combine the remaining flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper. ** Working with a slice at a time, dip the green tomato slices into the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally roll it in the cornmeal mixture. Set the breaded slices aside.½ cup cornmeal, 1 tsp salt, Fresh ground pepper, 2 large green tomatoes
- Pour the oil into a large cast iron skillet. Heat the oil to roughly 375°F. Working in batches, fry the tomatoes until golden on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel and place in a low 150°F oven to drain.½ cup neutral oil
- Pour off any excess oil from the skillet and give it a quick wipe before adding the halloumi. Fry the halloumi until golden on both sides. Set aside.1 brick halloumi
- Place the lettuce on a platter. Top with the fried green tomatoes, figs, heirloom tomato, halloumi, and green olives. Serve alongside the buttermilk dressing.1 head baby gem lettuce, 1 batch fried green tomatoes, 4-5 figs, 1 heirloom tomato, ⅓ cup green olives