Stir together okra and buttermilk in a large bowl; let stand 20 mins. Drain.
Cook bacon in a large skillet over med. heat until crisp; drain on paper towels. Reserve 1/4 cup bacon drippings.
Combine cornmeal, flour, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a large heavy duty, ziplock plastic bag; add okra, a few at a time, sealing and shaking to coat each batch.
Pour oil to depth of 1/2 inch into a large heavy skillet. Fry okra, in batches, in hot oil 2 mins. on each side or until golden. Drain well on paper towels.
Process reserved bacon drippings, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper, onion, and next 5 ingreds. in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping once to scrape down sides. Pour into a 1 cup glass measuring cup.
Microwave dressing mixture at HIGH 30 to 45 secs. or untl thoroughly heated.
Line a large serving platter with lettuce leaves; arrange tomato and okra over lettuce. Sprinkle with bacon, and drizzle with warm dressing. Serve immed. Garnish if desired. Yield: 6 main dish or 10 side dish servings.
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