Fried Green Tomatoes: A Neighborhood Garden Satisfies My Craving

There is a house on our street that has a beautiful flower garden adorning the front yard every summer, and each time I pass by they bring a smile to my face.  Last weekend these neighbors had a garage sale, including selling some of their home-grown heirloom tomatoes.  We had friends in town for the long weekend, and after a drive home from another adventure we decided to stop by.  Plus, it would give me an opportunity to see the flowers up close.

A view of just half of the flower bed!

Earlier in the weekend, I was telling everyone that I had a hankering for fried green tomatoes, without a reason as to why (no, I’m not from the South).  On the table before me were fresh picked, ripe garden tomatoes and our friend Todd reminded me about my craving.  “Do you have any green tomatoes?” I asked my neighbor, Rita, and quickly added “they’re for fried green tomatoes; I’ve had a craving for them.”  With a shrug she told us to follow her in the backyard, where we could pick our own off the vine.  From the fragrant little green house, we selected the fattest tomatoes that had yet to ripen where they were clipped off and placed in our waiting hands.  Not only did I get to tell my neighbor how much I enjoyed her flowers, I was able to buy some fresh, heirloom tomatoes that were grown in my own neighborhood.  Now that’s what I call sharing the love!

I was thrilled to find Rita’s green tomatoes, and to satisfy my craving for something so unusual to find. Fried green tomatoes are just what the name suggests – thick slices of unripe tomato are breaded and fried until lightly golden, and the inside yields to the bite with a firm but slightly tart taste. To adorn each warm bite, I whipped up some Buttermilk Herb dressing; the buttermilk provides the perfect tang to match the tart tomatoes and the Fine herbs in the dressing lend an aromatic note. They are an irresistible treat, mainly because they are fried – and you all know how much I love a good fried anything every once in a while – but also because of the wholesome, fresh flavors and textures in every bite.

Here’s the breading station, and one of the textures: each bowl is seasoned (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper) to give those layers of flavor. Before frying, the slices are dredged in egg, then flour, the egg again and finished with a cornmeal mixture – I wanted a little more crunch and texture so I added some panko. It’s optional.

A serrated knife makes slicing a breeze; each large tomato yields about 5 slices. (Thank you, Todd, for capturing the behind-the scenes shots, and for cleaning up after me!)

Little did Rita know how much joy her unripe tomatoes would bring me! I was able to cook for and share something new with our friends, Todd and Marcia (thanks for being my willing taste testers!), and you get a new recipe.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Perhaps only if Rita reads my blog post about her tomatoes……I left a business card with her and suggested she look up my blog today. Cheers!

Eat well and share the love!

Fried Green Tomatoes & Buttermilk Herb Dressing (print recipe)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies

2 to 3 large green, unripe tomatoes – cut into ½ inch thick slices
¾ cup canola oil

2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
½ cup flour½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup panko
Breading Spices (add to each bowl)

¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
Buttermilk Herb Dressing (makes about ½ cup, use any leftovers to dress a small salad)

1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon dried Fine herbs
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper (medium grind)
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of onion powder

Sea salt or kosher salt
Chopped chives
Fresh ground pepper

Fry the tomatoes: Cut the tomatoes into ½ inch thick slices – one large tomato yields 5 to 6 slices, cut away the stem from the top slice and fry the odd pieces too.

Add the oil to a 10-inch cast iron skillet (or medium skillet with high sides) and turn heat to medium-high. Heat oil until the surface starts to ripple; it should be hot so the tomatoes cook quickly. (Do not leave oil unattended.)

While the oil is heating, assemble the 3 breading bowls (need shallow, wide bowls).
Bowl 1: add the eggs, 1 tablespoon water and the breading spices; whisk well with a fork.
Bowl 2: add the flour and breading spices and mix together with a fork. 
Bowl 3: add the cornmeal, panko and breading spices; mix together with a fork.

To bread a tomato slice, coat both sides of tomato in egg mixture and transfer to flour bowl. Lightly dust both sides with flour, shake off excess and return to egg mixture. Quickly coat both sides with egg again and place in cornmeal bowl. Coat both sides well with cornmeal and shake off any extra. Place on a plate and continue breading the remaining slices.

Line a plate with a few paper towels and place near skillet. When oil is hot, gently add 3 breaded tomato slices to the skillet. Let cook until lightly golden brown and gently turn over using a spider or tongs (always in the direction away from you to avoid splatters), cook until lightly golden brown. With a spider or slotted spoon, remove the slices from the oil and transfer to plate to drain; season with sea salt while fried green tomatoes are hot. Repeat for remaining slices. Serve hot; garnish with chopped chives, a bit of fresh ground pepper and serve with Buttermilk Herb Dressing.

Buttermilk Herb Dressing:  Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. OR add all ingredients to a small jelly jar, replace the lid and shake well.

Happy Anniversary, Todd & Marcia!
What a fantastic meal at Firenze a Tavola  – in the Highlands neighborhood (Denver).

8 responses to “Fried Green Tomatoes: A Neighborhood Garden Satisfies My Craving

  1. What a wonderful way to get green tomatoes, fresh picked right off of the vine. The flower garden was a great bonus. Will try and find green tomatoes and make these soon. Thanks for the great recipe.

  2. Wow, those look so delicious! I think you might have passed your craving on to me. 🙂 Hopefully I can find some nice looking green tomatoes like that at our farmer’s market here. Thanks for such a wonderful post.

    • Thanks, Elyse (sorry about the craving). 🙂 Yes, I hope you find some green tomatoes too so you and Mark can try this recipe. As always, I’m happy to pass them on to the next generation. I bet they would be quite tasty with a cold beer.

  3. Melissa – Our fabulously LONG and LUXURIOUS weekend stay was capped off with “Fried Greens” (as I now call them). Being a Brooklyn-boy born and raised, I’ve never had the opportunity to try these tasty treats. I can’t say what I enjoyed more: taking the photos, helping clean up while you worked, watching you enjoy something you were “jones’in” for, witnessing the BEAUTIFUL transition from vine-to-table, seeing the contrasting colors, or actually eating them myself! You are not only a fabulous person (and hostess) but a magnificent chef as well. Marcia and I thank you and David SO MUCH for helping us enjoy one of the most scrumptious weekends we’ve had since returning from Italy (which we also enjoyed sharing with you). Ciao!

    • Thanks for the generous comment, Todd! It was fun sharing it all with you both. No one has ever gone hungry in my house because as you know firsthand, it’s all about the food! And the good wines are fun to savor as well. Glad you liked the “fried greens” as much as I did. Ciao, a Presto!

  4. Melissa, Just in time as Graham has a load of green tomatoes due to the lack of sun here this summer. Trust you are both well. We are back at Paolos early Oct. Ciao, Chris

    • Once again, good timing for your life in England! So glad I could offer up a suggestion for Graham’s bounty – despite their color, green tomatoes are still delicious. As you can imagine, we are quite envious that you can easily jet down to Paolo’s agriturismo farm in Italy. I’m always looking for ways to return to Marche! Ciao, hope to see you soon.

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