How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tomatoes
Photo of green tomatoes by davidking
We’ve been getting green tomatoes in our CSA share.
The two things that I’ve heard of doing with green tomatoes is frying them and making them into some kind of relish deal. I’ve never been a particularly big fan of green tomato relishes, and fried green tomatoes seemed like a non-starter. There’s all the hot oil, for one, and the fact that it’s hot, and splatters. And it seems like the kind of thing that you have to make in huge batches in some kind of assembly line with cousins and aunts and neighbors all sitting around dunking tomato slices into batter. It was also just not something we ever ate or made growing up, ever. This is because, with the exception of my grandmother from North Carolina, we are all resolutely New Englanders and thus reluctant to fry things that are not clams* or potatoes (which are a universal fried food, spanning the Mason Dixon).
But push came to shove, and I made fried green tomatoes. We got a ton of them in the CSA, and frying them seemed like the easiest thing that would net us more than a condiment. I don’t know why I avoided it for so long. It’s not like you don’t come across a lot of green tomatoes if you’re a member of a CSA (or at least, any of the CSAs I’ve ever been a member of).
And it is not as scary as I thought:
If you’ve been cooking for a certain period of time, you’re probably no longer particularly sensitive to small hot oil splatters on your forearms. It hurts, just not in an OH MY GOD GET MY ARM AWAY FROM THAT AS FAST AS POSSIBLE way.
You don’t need a vat of oil to fry tomato slices.
You don’t have to make them in huge batches. It’s totally reasonable to fry enough green tomatoes for a relatively filling appetizer for two people.**
And they’re really good! The tomatoes are nicely sour/tart, and the frying makes them hot without being mushy. They would be fantastic with a homemade mayonnaise for dipping.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Get together three shallow bowls and line them up. Fill the first with about 1/2 a cup of flour. Fill the second with an egg, beaten with a fork. Fill the third with an equal mix of flour and corn meal (about 1 cup).
Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 - 1/2” thick disks. Salt and pepper the tomatoes.
Heat up a 1/2” inch or so of oil in the bottom of a skillet.
Dip the tomato slices into the flour, then egg, then flour/corn meal. You know how when you’re preparing a cake pan, you coat it in butter, then add flour, then tap out the excess flour? I found the dipping went better if I just slightly tapped the tomato slices to get rid of the excess flour after the first flour dip. Does that make sense?
Fry your tomato slices in the oil until brown, then flip and fry the other side. Maybe 2 - 4 minutes per side? Maybe? Lay on paper towels to cool slightly.
Watch out for molten tomato innards. You will absolutely burn your tongue.
I found out later from my dad that my grandfather used to make fried green tomatoes.
* Clams are obviously the One True and Right Fried Food.
** I do not normally make “appetizers” on a weeknight for the two of us. It’s just that we were both really hungry, and it was five thirty and dinner was going to be later.