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! This post was originally written in 2012 when a vendor at a local farmers’ market, suggested frying green tomatoes with whatever coating suited me. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Since then, I’ve updated the post, added several new photos, and added Sriracha Dipping Sauce as an accompaniment. However the recipe remains the simple one and the taste is still a revelation.
The ingredients for these fried green tomatoes are simple. The tomatoes are, of course, the stars. The rest are simple: flour to coat, egg to bind, a few items to make a crunchy, spicy crust and olive oil to fry in.
The tomatoes for this recipe should be hard to the touch and green. If yours 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 the tomatoes 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.
By the way, green tomatoes aren’t the only vegetables that do beautifully crusted and fried. After tasting delicious fried okra, I got over my okra-phobia. Turns out that Cornmeal-Crusted Okra is amazing too.
I’m sure there are other vegetables that deserve similar treatment. And now that I’ve done fried green tomatoes and fried okra, there’s no stopping me. Suggestions for my next foray into crusted-and-fried territory?
Fried Green Tomatoes
These simply end-of-summer treats will delight you as a side dish or as lunch with soup or salad.
- 2 green tomatoes
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg beaten with 1-2 tablespoons water
- 3/4-1 cup cornmeal, panko, plain breadcrumbs or a combination
- kosher or sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- dash red (cayenne) pepper - optional
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Core and cut the tomatoes into slices approximately 1/2-inch thick.
Put the flour on one small plate, the beaten egg and water in a bowl, and the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, and/or panko in a second plate, along with salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper if you like your food spicy.
Dip the slices, first in the flour, then the egg and finally in the cornmeal, breadcrumb and panko mixture. 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 brown on the outside and get warmed on the inside. They get marginally softer, but retain their shape nicely. When done remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve warm.
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.