Fried green tomatoes – a Euro-chick’s exploration of something very Americana

Remember that old movie – ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’? Ever since seeing it back in the early 90’s, I have wondered what such a thing might taste like. Well, it’s mid-October, and through my friends at Joy Creek, I happened to have access to some green tomatoes, so here was my chance to try some out – over two decades later. Once I decided to give it a shot, I got kind of excited about it. I asked friends if they liked them, how they made them, and what it was usually served with. Then, I combined those answers with that customary recipe search on the interwebs. I usually read a few, and then draw from several of them. This time was no different. The one I settled on, for a base line, was this, from Divas Can Cook.  (I ended up using the panko/cornmeal blend instead of seasoned crutons.)

In my thoughts leading up to this adventure, reinforced by reading many seemingly bland recipes, I had somehow decided that a dipping sauce offering a little mild heat would be in order. I had also gotten some Banana peppers from the gardens at Joy Creek, so I roasted them on the grill the night before. For some reason, I thought cilantro might be more intriguing with the peppers than the recommended basil. Thus, I made the sauce first.

A clove of garlic, some chives, and a fistful of cilantro (which this time of year, quite honestly, is rather watery and quite lacking in flavor) went in the blender with the roasted peppers. The sappy cilantro got a much needed boost by adding some crushed coriander seeds. The addition of juice from half a lime, salt and pepper, and equal parts mayonnaise and Greek yoghurt made for a rather zippy sauce, with I was actually fairly pleased with. It provided the perfect, tart, somewhat spicy balance to the fried tomatoes.

In addition to the ingredients used in the Divas Can Cook recipe, I added half a cup of grated Pecorino Romano to the Panko/Cornmeal mix. I imagined the nutty, salty goodness of the cheese would kick the coating up a notch. I wasn’t wrong. Also, since I decided to use cilantro instead of basil, I chopped some of it finely, and mixed it with the flour.

I guess I can say that my very first venture into this traditional southern American dish was a success – even if I didn’t stick with pure tradition. It was tasty, the slices had a wonderful crunch (lots of good tips offered by Monique in the recipe – thank you for that), and everyone was happily chowing down on the result. The only downside to my experience has nothing to do with either recipe or execution. Beware – if you decide to do this in a kitchen without a functioning exhaust fan, your house will provide evidence of your culinary foray for days to come. I probably won’t do this again until after we renovate the kitchen. Mind you, this is probably what kitchens smelled like, back in the day, in villages and small towns down in the South – no doubt adding to the memories of a culture largely gone by, and the authenticity of the experience.



About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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18 Responses to Fried green tomatoes – a Euro-chick’s exploration of something very Americana

  1. chefkreso says:

    It’s been such a long time since I had green tomatoes, they look amazing fried with that dip 😁

  2. Tina says:

    Looks yummy! I’ve tried them in the past and wasn’t crazy about them, but your cilantro additive would work for me.

    • annamadeit says:

      I think I can’t truthfully say that it made a big difference. Don’t know for sure, but I think it’s a dish that – to me, at least – would need some brighter notes to be truly enjoyable. It would seem kind of “heavy” without it, if you know what I mean.

  3. Alison says:

    That looks delicious! I’m an American and I’ve never had fried green tomatoes, but then again, I’m a Yankee, so… Hmmm, I take it you don’t cook fried fish then. It can really stink up your kitchen.

    • annamadeit says:

      Haha- no, not very often… Regrettably – there are a lot of other things I wish I could cook without having to live for days with the aftermath. For now, let me tell you, the grill comes in very handy, as does my little fish smoker. That said – I measured up our house last week, so we are getting ready for some upgrades. Maybe one day, pending installation of 21st century kitchen equipment, we can actually cook with abandon again…

  4. Funny just yesterday I noticed some green tomatoes going to waste in a neighbor’s garden, and thought about liberating them to fry up. It’s been a few years since I’ve done this but remember liking the result.

  5. annamadeit says:

    What perfect timing! Go for it – they will probably thank you for doing them a favor! 🙂

  6. rickii says:

    I love the zing of diced green tomatoes used in an omelette (of course a few shallots and capers help). I also use them in white fish simmered in wine with lemongrass. Now, thanks to you, it looks like time to revisit “fried green tomatoes”. I remember liking that movie but when I read another Fannie Flagg novel recently it seemed pretty lame.

    • annamadeit says:

      Oooh – I especially like the idea of your fish recipe! That sounds like it would be fantastic! Need to try the omelette one too, as I still have a few green tomatoes left.

  7. tonytomeo says:

    Those look much neater than mine. I cook mine rather sloppily. They have bits and pieces hanging off here and there. I don’t care what they look like when I eat them. I do not grow green tomatoes though. I am not certain why they are the preferred types. My neighbor gets yellow tomatoes for frying, and we have fried red tomatoes as well (because that is what we have the most of). My neighbor picked up some ‘green zebra’ tomatoes just to see what the hype was about, but they were not too much better. I think that they were a bit more tangy, which is good. At the end of the year, when the red tomato plants get frosted, we pick all the fruit to ripen on the windowsill. There are always a few that do not quite ripen. We either can them as pickled tomatoes, or fry them as fried green tomatoes, even though they are just red tomatoes that did not ripen. I suppose that is why green tomatoes get fried in Oklahoma and the South, where the seasons are more pronounced. They probably get many more that do not ripen. But then again unripe tomatoes are available all summer.

    • annamadeit says:

      You know, I never thought of “green tomatoes” as anything other than unripe tomatoes, or even as anything but a late season way to use unripe fruit, but you do bring up a couple of good points. Of course they are available all summer – how come I didn’t think of that??? Anyway, unripened are what these are, and I bet that is why they are so much neater than yours. I think it would be really difficult to retain the perfect round shape of the slice of a sweet, sloppy, ripe tomato, no matter how much coating one used. These hard, unripe, green ones are rather easy in that regard. I had a friend that would cut off her cherry tomato plant at the base when frosty nights loomed, and hang them from the ceiling of her food pantry to ripen. I have never had pickled tomatoes, but I bet they are delicious. 🙂

  8. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I tried making these a few years after I saw the movie and found them good but yours sound outstanding!

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