I got well into adulthood before I tasted Fried Green Tomatoes. When the book of that name came out, I had no idea what the title referred to or why one would eat such a dish. In fact, if I ever had a green tomato I dutifully put it in a dark corner to ripen, presuming that it wasn’t ready to eat until it was red and soft.
Boy, was I ever wrong! Last year, Anthony, my favorite farmer/vendor at a local farmers' market, suggested frying green tomatoes with whatever coating suited me, and I’ve been hooked ever since. (He also suggested that I try cooking okra. I haven't gotten to that suggestion yet, but did taste some delicious fried okra this summer and I'm at least considering getting over my okra-phobia sometime soon.) This recipe does not have the benefit of approval from a Southern cook, a born-and-raised Southerner, or even research. It is simply my take on a fantastic vegetable side dish or lunch main course.
The tomatoes should be hard to the touch and green to work well in this recipe. If your tomatoes have started to turn red, you can still use them as long as they are mostly green and have not begun to soften. The easiest and best way to slice them is with a large serrated-edge knife. If you don’t have one and use a straight-edged knife, be especially careful; smooth, round foods are notoriously difficult to slice safely and straight-edged knives slip more easily than serrated ones.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Serves 2 -3 Cost - $3
- 2 medium-size green tomatoes, (approximately 6 oz. each)
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ¾ - 1 cup of cornmeal, breadcrumbs, panko or a combination
- 1 egg, mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water
- salt and pepper to taste
- dash of cayenne (hot) pepper - optional
- 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
- Cutting board
- Medium-large knife with serrated edge
- Small knife
- 2 small plates
- 1 larger plate
- Pan with low sides
- Metal spatula or pancake turner
- Cut off the ends and stem of rinsed and dried green tomatoes. Cut them into slices approximately ½ inch thick.
- Mix the egg and water in the bowl, the flour in one small plate and the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, and panko in the other. Add the salt and pepper to the second plate (with the breadcrumbs, etc.) and a dash of cayenne pepper if you like your food spicy. I like the coating crunchy, so I use a mixture of homemade breadcrumbs (toasted and sprinkled with olive oil) and panko, adding cornmeal for taste, in roughly equal proportions. Any combination of those or store bought breadcrumbs works.
- Dip the slices, first in the flour, then the egg and finally in the cornmeal, breadcrumb and panko mixture. Remember mise en place? It helps to line up the bowl and plates in the order you'll move the slices through the other ingredients. If you want to prepare the tomatoes earlier in the day and cook them at the last minute, place them on a plate in a single layer, cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
- Heat the pan and then add the oil. If you are using a large pan, add all the oil, but if you are using a smaller pan that will require doing 2 batches, then add only half the oil for the first batch. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, fry the slices for approximately 3-5 minutes per side on medium heat. (Heating the oil first minimizes the amount of oil that the tomato slices will absorb.) The slices should be browned on the outside and warm on the inside. They get marginally softer, but retain their shape nicely. I don’t pat the slices on a paper towel to remove extra oil before serving, but you could if you prefer them drier. Serve warm.