Last summer we had a bounty of tomatoes in our backyard. I know — seems impossible in the fog, but there they were in all their glory! Almost “Little Shop of Horrors”-like, but in a good way. We made sauce, paste, fresh tomato salads, and tomato soup (which we definitely plan to repeat this year, supplementing with some boxes of “ugly tomatoes” from the farmer’s market as necessary). But most exciting, at least to me, were the fried green tomatoes.
I love all the great produce we have access to in the Bay Area, but I really haven’t found green tomatoes available anywhere… and I don’t mean the green varietals, I mean mature, but un-ripe tomatoes. It seems the only way to ensure your supply is to make friends with a farmer or grow your own.
I trace my little fried green tomato obsession to my stint last summer at Split Pea Seduction with chef Christian Noto. A particularly carve-able sandwich showed up on the menu one week: fried green tomatoes on a toasty housemade bun, with crisp romaine lettuce, fresh mint, swiss cheese, dab of dijon and a squeeze of lemon. I was hooked. We don’t make too many fried foods at home, but as in the rest of life, you must make exceptions — especially where fried green tomatoes and squash blossoms are concerned.
We made a few variations last year and ever since summer has rolled around again, I’ve been itching to get back to it. Luca and I check the progress of our backyard tomato crop everyday. There’s a good amount of fruit that has set, but nothing even close to being ready to cook with. So when we happened upon some under-ripe, but other-wise decent looking heirlooms at the market today, we decided to get our tomato season officially kicked off. Not exactly real-deal “green tomatoes” but close enough. Luca was very intrigued by the whole breading process and was also pretty excited about trying them, too. (Witness the little fingers sneaking into my photo.) To that I say “hurrah” let the games begin!
Fried Green Tomatoes
Green tomatoes will be full-sized with jelly-like pulp and maybe just a hint of ripeness, but still very firm. Once picked they last for several weeks and will slowly ripen. They usually don’t get too juicy, but still I avoid too much salting of the raw tomatoes, to minimize the amount of water they release.
Shopping List: Green Tomatoes, eggs, fresh mint and chives, lemon, panko (Japanese bread crumbs), flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Plus your favorite dipping sauce!
- Whisk 2 eggs. Season with pepper and finely chopped mint and chives.
- Pour flour into a bowl, season flour with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder and set aside.
- Pour panko bread crumbs into a bowl and set aside.
- Cut green, un-ripe tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices. Pat dry.
- Dredge in flour, shake off excess.
- Coat with sides with egg mixture then into the panko!
- Fry in very hot oil until crispy and golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
- Salt generously with kosher salt. Serve with lemon wedges.
- You can hold the fried tomatoes in a 200 degree oven on a rack for about 30 minutes.
You could eat these as is, throw them in a sandwich like Christian, or put together a dipping sauce. A simple balsamic reduction, a remoulade, or yogurt spiced up with fresh mint, chives, and lemon zest would do nicely. Tim votes for some kind of buttermilk dipping sauce and then brought up the possibility of fried green tomatillos. Possibilities, possibilities!