The Garden’s Last Gasp: Fried Green Tomatoes

Bowls of tomatoes, waiting for fruit flies to find them

Bowls of tomatoes, waiting for fruit flies to find them

We pulled our tomato plants just before the killing frost last week and although we simply threw most of them onto our long-term compost pile, we hesitated over the remains of our heirloom plants. We decided to pick out the rest of those tomatoes, both green and red.  Michael said, “How about fried green tomatoes?” “Yuck,” I said, without missing a beat.  Then I reconsidered.

Every year we leave bowls of tomatoes sitting around our kitchen, ripening or rotting, depending on how much attention we remember to pay to them.  So why not divert a few for this classic southern dish, or at least our ill-informed northeastern version of it?  We had some fried green tomatoes in Atlanta last year when we were visiting our son and, while never replacing potatoes in my heart, they weren’t bad.  So we plucked out a few small green heirloom tomatoes and added a couple of under-ripe somewhat red plum tomatoes for good measure and proceeded on to a new culinary exploration.

Traditionally fried green tomatoes are made from larger tomatoes, like a beefsteak or big boy variety, but since I don’t grow those I was stuck with my little green tomatoes. I simply cut off the stems and halved the tomatoes, not ideal since the batter doesn’t stick well to the shiny end surface.  The most important thing is that the tomatoes cannot be ripe or they will turn to mush.  I think if I were to do this again, I would only use green tomatoes, the red ones were just a little too sweet.  The point of this dish is fried and sour. Paired with a creamy dipping sauce, it is a real pleasure. I included a recipe for the dipping sauce I made, but I think a straight aioli would also be good.  In fact, almost anything is good if you eat it with aioli.

Fried pickles next?

All cut up and ready to fry

All cut up and ready to fry

RECIPE:  Fried Green Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • Four medium green tomatoes, or a dozen smaller ones
  • Flour for dredging
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun or Mexican seasoning
  • Two eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup peanut oil

Method

Slice the tomatoes into ½ inch slices.  Sprinkle them with salt and let sit for 30 minutes (this will make them crisper).  After half an hour, dredge them in flour.

In a small bowl mix together panko, corn meal, seasoning, paprika, and some pepper or even cayenne if you like hot food.

In a separate bowl beat two eggs. You can add a little milk or buttermilk if you like.

Heat a cast iron or nonstick pan over a medium high flame, add the oil.

Dip each tomato slice in egg, then the panko mixture.  Place in hot oil.

Do not crowd the tomato slices in the pan.  Cook for around four or five minutes, then turn over and cook the other side.  They should be a deep golden brown.

Eat hot with dipping sauce.

Fried green tomatoes, with sauce

Fried green tomatoes, with sauce

RECIPE:  Remoulade Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar or pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Thin the mayonnaise with the vinegar then stir in the other ingredients.  Let it sit for at least half an hour to marry the flavors.  Refrigerate if not being eaten immediately.  Spoon on top of fried green tomatoes, or dip the tomatoes into a bowl of the sauce before eating.

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Categories: Appetizer, Gardening, Homesteading, recipe, Vegetables

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19 Comments on “The Garden’s Last Gasp: Fried Green Tomatoes”

  1. November 6, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Those tomatoes look wonderful! That’s one of my FAVORITE things about summer – deliciously fresh tomatoes :)

  2. November 6, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    I am not familiar with “panko”. What is it?

  3. November 6, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    Panko is a Japanese bread crumb, it is a little bigger and crunchier than normal bread crumbs. You could substitute freely or make your own.

  4. November 6, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    You know I lived in the South for ten years never had them. Though those look great. I might have to try it sometime.

    And the images you have of the fresh picked ones? Now totally craving BLT’s.
    – Nicky

    • Dianna
      November 6, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      I have been to Atlanta twice in the last year and dived into southern food both times. There is a restaurant called Flying Biscuit that has the best grits and biscuits, and all kinds of interesting sides. My mouth starts to water just thinking about it. Maybe not the healthiest choices, given the amount of fat in the cooking, but very tasty.

      • November 6, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

        I’m a fan of homemade hush puppies with southern fried catfish so I can’t say anything about healthy, though I’ll agree with the mouth watering bit. Good Southern food’s like that, and lately it’s been my comfort food for when I’m in the blahs.

        • Dianna
          November 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

          Yeah, my mother was Czech so my go to comfort food runs towards dumplings and gravy, not that different.

          • November 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

            Dad’s family’s German and Hugarian, lots of meats.

            Though Gran and Gramps would bake and make candies for the holidays

            • November 7, 2013 at 9:55 am #

              My mother made the world’s best apple streudel and Christmas cookies that made your eyes roll up in to the back of your head. But she also learned to make fried chicken and biscuits for my father, who was from Texas. A great combo.

  5. November 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Looks delightful! I’d love these with some gravy, but then, I put gravy on everything!

    • Dianna
      November 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      I imagine gravy would be delicious. Anything that adds a counterpoint to the sourness of the tomatoes would work.

  6. November 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    Nice haul! (And I LOVE the Flying Biscuit! My best friend lives next to one and when I visit from Florida, I insist on going there.)

    • Dianna
      November 7, 2013 at 9:56 am #

      Yes, it is so good. Their biscuits are WONDERFUL. I am sorry they don’t have a branch in NYC.

  7. November 7, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    Yum! I love fried green tomatoes! I like the ingredients you used for the dipping sauce.

    • Dianna
      November 7, 2013 at 9:58 am #

      I adapted it from something I saw on line and it worked. I like spicy dipping sauces, especially for something fried. I am a big fan of Frank’s hot sauce and tabasco, so I tend to put it in everything.

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