Updated Note: As I was cleaning out my bookmark folder this week , I realized that the inspiration for this dish (though not the recipe) was probably seeded by this post from Eating From the Ground Up that I save years ago and never attempted. Funny how things like that stick around in your mind!
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES WITH LEEKS & GOAT CHEESE
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 2 servings (not as a stand-alone dinner)
3 TBS canola oil
2 large unripe green tomatoes, sliced to about 1/2" thickness
1/2 cup flour, 1-2 large egg (whites only), 1/2 cup of panko, salt, pepper
1 leek (whites and light greens only), sliced to ~1/4" thickness and halved
2 tsp olive oil or butter, a couple sprigs of fresh globe basil (de-stemmed)
1 oz fresh goat cheese
Get your oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Prepare three bowls: one with flour, one with egg white, and one with panko, salt and pepper. Test that the oil is hot by flicking in some flour- if the flour sizzle right away, you're at a good temperature. If your pan is not hot enough, the tomatoes will take up too much oil. Working one at a time, lightly coat each tomato slice in flour, then toss it in the egg white. Make sure the egg white is just a thin layer, it is only there to act as and adhesive. Then toss the tomato slices in the panko and set them in the pan to fry. Let them fry for about 2-4 minutes on each side, or until nice and golden. When they come off the heat, set them on a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Since this recipe takes two or three pan-loads to complete, I like to set my cooked tomatoes in the toaster oven on warm to retain the heat better while the next batch cooks.
Meanwhile, get a small pan going over medium high heat with a bit of oil or butter. Toss in the leeks and cook until the edges are just slightly charred. As soon as you take them off the heat, toss the leeks with a bit of basil. To serve, pile the tomatoes on a plate, top them with the charred leeks, and sprinkle with fresh goat cheese.