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Baked Fried Green Tomatoes

July 26, 2012

I love tomatoes. This is not news.

Everyone knows that in-season tomatoes taste best; theoretically, you should be able to buy perfect tomatoes any day, all summer long, from your local grocery store, right? Nope!

If you’ve ever had your mind blown by a ripe, juicy, and– most of all– sweet red tomato, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. (Insert clichéd “not all tomatoes are created equal” comment here.)

Now, thanks to science (!) we know why some tomatoes “taste more like cardboard than fruit.”

My friend, Mimi, drew my attention to this LA Times article about mass-produced tomatoes. For years tomato breeders have been selecting fruit for its uniform color, which has led to a genetic change in most supermarket tomatoes that affects their sugar content. It turns out heirloom and small farm tomatoes– those with darker, splotchier tops– are much sweeter.

(Surprise, surprise… but now we know why!)

This knowledge could not have plunked itself down in my brain with more perfect timing. My CSA share included one pound of green tomatoes, and I got to pick out the pound. The organic heirloom tomatoes were all a bit splotchy, but I reached for the splotchiest!*

And here’s where– despite growing up in Wisconsin— my fear of deep-frying things comes in. I made baked “fried” green tomatoes!

I hardly feel that this was original– all over the cooking blog world, healthier baked versions of traditional deep-fried classics abound– but man, was it good.

My only complaint (to myself) involved the cornmeal: somehow my “medium grind” cornmeal that works so nicely for cornbread was just far too coarse for this dish. (Maybe they mislabeled a “coarse grind” batch?) Of course this means that if you try this out with fine ground cornmeal, I’ll expect no complaints!

I also have to confess that I have no idea how these are served (or with what they are eaten) in the South… With a chunky tomato sauce and a knife and fork? As finger food with a mayonnaise-based dipping sauce? Some other secret Southern way?

Since I nestled my just-baked tomatoes on top of some salad greens to green up these photos, that is just how I ate them: as a salad topping of sorts, with a little bit of fig walnut balsamic vinaigrette drizzled over the greens and the warm green tomatoes.

(But then I discovered this beautiful blog post for a Fried Green Tomato Frittata, and now I know just what to do with my next batch.)

* I can’t say why, but I am somehow proud to have included the words “splotchy,” “splotchier,” and “splotchiest” all in the same blog post.

Print this recipe.

RECIPE:

Baked “Fried” Green Tomatoes

(Serves 2-3 as an appetizer or part of a salad)

Ingredients:
~ 2-3 green tomatoes (the splotchier, the better!)
~ ¼ cup cornmeal (fine ground)
~ 2 Tbsp. flour
~ 1 tsp. brown sugar
~ sea salt and black pepper, to taste
~ ⅓ cup buttermilk (or make your own: add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the milk and let sit for 10 minutes)
OPTIONAL:
~ sprinkle of cayenne or paprika

How to make it:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an oven-proof baking dish. (Or easier still, just use a cast iron pan!)

2. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. (And, optionally, the cayenne or paprika.)

3. Uniformly slice the green tomatoes. Submerge each tomato slice briefly in the buttermilk, then dredge in the cornmeal mixture, making sure it’s evenly coated. (I would coat the tomatoes with a bit less of the mixture compared to what you see in these photos.)

4. Place the dredged tomatoes in the oven-proof dish or cast iron pan, and bake for about 40 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown. Flip the tomatoes over around the 20 minute mark.

5. Serve warm over a bed of greens, as a finger food snack, or however they are eaten in the South!

Print this recipe!

Related recipe posts:
> Chilaquiles Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
> End-of-summer Tomato Salad
> Shepherd’s Salad (Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Red Onion, and Feta)

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2012 11:03 am

    I was never the hugest fan of fried green tomatoes (deep-fried or otherwise) but at the South Georgia plantation restaurant where I briefly worked they had to FGT appetizer where, instead of slicing them up, they cored the tomatoes, battered and deep fried the resulting ring whole, filled the center with remoulade and then hung 3-4 deep-friend shrimp off the sides of the standing tomato.

    • July 26, 2012 11:09 am

      Hm, that sounds good! Although it also sounds like the tomatoes were more of a vessel for the shrimp and remoulade than the main event… (Also, removing the core and frying the resulting tomato rings has a nice visual appeal to it, but with the tomatoes I used this time, I saw– and tasted– no reason to have removed the cores.)

  2. July 26, 2012 12:30 pm

    Mmmmmm. Looks good!

  3. July 26, 2012 12:51 pm

    These looks good – I love the bake things that are supposed to be fried!

    • July 26, 2012 2:33 pm

      Thank you! And me too– not just because I have a fear of deep-frying things, but also it’s healthier, less hands-on, and there’s way less clean-up!

  4. July 26, 2012 1:17 pm

    I have never tried green tomatos in this way but it looks ingenious :D
    Wonderful photos!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  5. July 26, 2012 1:41 pm

    Great photos Allison! Lovin’ that natural light! : )

    • July 26, 2012 2:34 pm

      Thank you! :) These are still from my old camera, since I’m always behind on the posting compared to the cooking… but definitely using 100% natural light!

  6. littlefashionistas permalink
    July 26, 2012 1:55 pm

    Reminds me the film “Fried Green Tomatoes”, it looks delicious! ;-)

    • July 26, 2012 2:36 pm

      Thanks! I love that film! I’d only seen it once as a child, but then I read the book and re-watched it two or three years ago and it was better than I’d remembered it. Maybe it’s about time to watch it again…

  7. July 28, 2012 12:36 am

    MMMMMMM,…You can’t find green tomlatoes over here only is the most expensive shops. Maybe, I must grow them next year! :) I love your recipe a lot! Yumm!

    Congrats too on your 1st Blog anniversary! You have a very COOL blog! xxx Cheers!

    • July 30, 2012 11:25 am

      Thanks so much; it’s always nice to hear positive blog feedback! (Of course I’d still probably spend just as much time on it, since it’s so much fun, but hearing from others makes it feel more worth it!)

      I wish I could grow my own tomatoes, red or green– and I’ve tried!– but I don’t have a green thumb at all.

  8. July 28, 2012 4:47 pm

    Gorgeous green color those tomatoes have!

    • July 30, 2012 11:25 am

      Yes, they were gorgeously green (and splotchy and flavorful)!

  9. July 29, 2012 3:24 pm

    I’ll have to keep this recipe for the end of the growing season in the garden.

    • July 30, 2012 11:26 am

      Definitely! If you are lucky enough to have a garden with tomato plants, this is a perfect recipe to keep in mind. :)

  10. July 29, 2012 6:01 pm

    great recipe and photos, try convection in your oven (if you have it) they will crisp up and look like fried

    • July 30, 2012 11:28 am

      I don’t have a convection oven, but I’ll keep that in mind; thanks!

  11. Erina permalink
    July 29, 2012 8:34 pm

    I’ve got loads of tomato plants going, but given that this is Seattle, at least some of them are guaranteed to stay green, so I’ll definitely have to give them a try!

    • July 30, 2012 11:29 am

      Perfect! I hope you like how it turns out. And I’m jealous of your loads of tomato plants. :)

  12. Nami | Just One Cookbook permalink
    August 1, 2012 10:04 pm

    I heard about this dish but never tried. I must give it a try soon before I forget to try. I also love tomatoes too!

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