By Stacy Harris
I can’t even remember the first time I had fried green tomatoes. Here in the South, they’re just part of our everyday summer meals. I do not think I ever ate at my Granny’s house in the summertime without fried green tomatoes accompanying my meal.
But the South isn’t the only place you’ll find them. Fried green tomatoes have begun to grow in status all over the country , and rightly so. Their mild tartness and crunch makes them wonderful companions for a variety of dishes. In the South we tend to eat them alongside a full plate of meat, butter beans, mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables, with a piece of buttery cornbread. But chefs everywhere are now starting to see enormous potential of fried green tomatoes (and green tomatoes in general).
Fried green tomatoes are excellent as a stand-alone appetizer served with a chipotle sauce, as a topping to your favorite burger, or as a substitute for a ripe tomato on a BLT. One of my very favorite ways to serve them is to place the fried tomatoes on a plate, then top them with shrimp and remoulade sauce.
Now that I am starving, I had better get to the heart of the issue: selecting the tomatoes and preparing the dish! If you are shopping for green tomatoes to use for frying, be sure to choose firm ones. The variety is not as important as the firmness of the tomato, but any good beefsteak will bring good results. If you are gathering them from your garden, again, choose fully grown, firm tomatoes.
One of the nice things about frying green tomatoes is that you can salvage the imperfect ones if the unblemished parts are large enough to provide enough surface area for frying. Another great thing is that you can make lots of fried green tomatoes at the end of the season, when the vines become less productive and what tomatoes they do produce probably won’t ripen properly.
This recipe is easy, fail-proof, and delicious. Happy growing—and happy cooking!
Fried Green Tomatoes
4 large firm green tomatoes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for sprinkling)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon water
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
Slice the tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. On a large plate, mix flour, salt, and pepper. On a second plate, beat eggs and water together. Place bread crumbs on a third plate. Coat tomato slices into seasoned flour, then egg mixture, then bread crumbs. In a hot sauté pan, mix butter and oil. When sizzling, place coated slices in pan for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until tomatoes are tender. Cook in batches and add more oil if needed. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with extra salt, and serve warm.
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a lighter (baked) version of this recipe: Simply replace the eggs with a cup of plain Greek yogurt, and use panko (a Japanese-style breadcrumb) in place of regular breadcrumbs. Spray the panko with nonstick spray to help the coating obtain a nice golden brown color, then bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other. You will be amazed how easy and tasty this treat will be!
Stacy Harris is pioneering the farm-to-fork eating movement that includes harvesting wild animals in addition to domesticated animals and homegrown fruits and vegetables. She’s the author of several books and DVDs about sustainable living for healthy families. For more recipes like this check out her website at GameandGarden.com and her Facebook page.