This was definitely a sucky year for tomatoes here in the Northwest. John, a bit ambitious after the success of his heirloom tomatoes in the last couple of years (want proof? Look at the picture at the top of this page), ignored any concerns about how we’d drown in tomatoes and planted an unprecedented fourth plant. At first I was apprehensive, but as our crop yielded so few red, ripe tomatoes this year, I soon grateful for that extra plant, even if it meant more of these being pulled off the vine and sitting on my kitchen counter:
Needless to say that if you were a guest in the Morrisong household this fall, you were treated to a plateful of fried green tomatoes. I know that there are other things you can do with them– chutney, chow-chow, even cake(!)— but few things beat a fried green tomato in my book. I love the firm texture with each bite, the slightly sour taste and how it contrasts with a salty, slightly sweet and crunchy cornmeal crust. As if that isn’t good enough, I also love to douse mine with vinegary hot sauce for heat and acid.
After thumbing through a number of recipes arguing the various benefits of a cornmeal v. breadcrumb v. flour crust, I decided to combine panko crumbs with cornmeal for my crust. I also combined flour with a little bit of cornstarch to dust the slices of tomato before dipping the slices in beaten egg in order to help the egg coat the tomatoes and ensure that the crust adhered. The crust was also seasoned with a mix of cayenne pepper, ground coriander, a pinch of cumin, and garlic powder for a flavorful, not just crunchy crust. After a shallow fry in a hot pan, these babies were plated with a side of mayonnaise mixed with hot sauce, garlic and lemon for a dunking each bite into (we fear not the double dipping in this household.)
How was it? Well let’s just say that I will no longer talk about lemons and lemonade but instead, will be trying to get the phrase, “When life gives you green tomatoes, fry them” to catch on as the new glib way to make a plea for optimism.
- 4 large green tomatoes, sliced about 1/3 inch thick
- 1 cup flour mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 large eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup panko crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- juice of half a lemon
- hot sauce to taste
- 1 minced garlic clove (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Mix together eggs with milk in a shallow bowl. Mix together the flour and cornstarch along with about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper on a plate. Combine the panko crumbs, cornmeal, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and garlic powder on another plate.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat while you coat the tomatoes. Working in batches, toss the tomato slices in the flour mix first, shaking off any excess flour. Dip them in the egg mixture next then coat each side in the cornmeal/panko mix. When oil is rippling and slight wisps of smoke are rising from the pan, add half of the coated tomato slices. Fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary to avoid burning the tomatoes. Remove the slices to a paper towel lined plate and season with salt to taste. Repeat with remaining tomato slices.
While tomatoes are frying, mix together the mayonnaise, hot sauce, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Serve on the side with the plate of fried green tomatoes.
Garden Count: 1
Plenty of unripe tomatoes