The tomatoes of summer do not appreciate the frosts of winter. If you have to harvest your tomatoes before they are ripe – here is one way to use them up.
Green Tomato Roots
Many of us are Southwest at heart but arrived here from other parts of the country, or even the world. Personally, I – Monica King – dug my feet into the caliche over twenty-five years ago.
I was born in the south and enjoyed life as a migratory beekeeper’s daughter, thus I have been lucky to enjoy cuisine from many areas with different ethnic backgrounds. Fried green tomatoes has been one of my go-to southern favorites – or so I thought.
I had friends visiting from Missouri, and as I started to make some fried green tomatoes they said, “No way can you out-do our Missouri Fried Green Tomatoes! We invented them!” I grabbed my heart! What?! No – this is a Southern dish! Could I have been wrong all these years?
Origins of the Dish
Digging into the past is what I do (I run a business called The Prehistoric Collector). The upshot is that – sadly, yes – fried green tomatoes are NOT Southern! Apparently the first recipes for fried green tomatoes are in 19th century Northeastern and Midwestern cookbooks! Such as the 1877 Buckeye Cookbook (Ohio) and the 1873 Presbyterian Cookbook. A recipe is also found in the 1919 International Jewish Cookbook.
The first southern mention of fried green tomatoes was not until the 1940’s! The recipe was dug up in a 1944 Alabama newspaper! The movie Fried Green Tomatoes was famous for them at their Whistle Stop Cafe but when you come right down to it there is no documentation of this dish originating in the South.
Years of Variations on a Theme
I sampled fried green tomatoes from many families, including Mom’s version, and from cookbooks. Whenever I would taste something different, I’d get excited, “Oh! You used that in there!” Over time my recipe has turned into a blend of the flavors I have sampled over time – with my own Southwestern kick! This may even change in the future. Perhaps you have your own twist to suggest? Please share below in the “Reply” section of this blog.
I found that the Pennsylvania Dutch used flour, cornmeal is a more recent Southern twist, and using breadcrumbs was an idea from my mom. All I can tell you with certainly is that making any fried green tomatoes recipe is – in my opinion – one of the best and easiest ways of using up green tomatoes picked when freezing temperatures hit…….but then I am also one that cannot resist the first green tomato off a new years planting. I guess I just love fried green tomatoes that much.
If you have never tried them I encourage you to do so. I cheated with this version and used Italian seasoned bread crumbs but add a few other ingredients as I like the heat of the red pepper flakes merging with the twang of the green tomato. The cornmeal gives them a lovely crunch. My husband unfortunately does not share my same love for the dish as I – so I tend to make small batches just for myself to savor as a snack.
Monica’s Southwest Style Fried Green Tomatoes
This makes about 4 medium sized tomatoes
1/3 cup yellow or blue cornmeal 1/3 cup wheat flour 1/3 cut Italian-style bread crumbs 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1 egg oil for frying
Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl, set aside.
In a separate bowl, scramble the egg (or eggs depending on how many tomatoes you are using), set aside.
Slice the tomatoes into 1/4″ thicknesses.
Start to heat enough oil to just coat a frying pan, I use avocado oil.
Dip each tomato slice first in egg, then in the dry ingredients, coating completely.
Gently lay into the hot oil.
Turn when golden.
Blot off any excess oil on paper towels when done.
The editor notes – These do need to cool off just a tad before eating. Hot oil is HOT!
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What do you think?!
Please leave your comments and ideas in the “reply” (= comment) section below.
More fun with Monica in: Using Honey in New & Savory Ways (Tierra del Sol Institute Press). Only $7 online – or buy from Monica or Jacqueline in person. This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies at no additional cost to you.
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