Summer is the season when I feel the most Southern. Delicacies that I can find only at farm stands and farmers’ markets a few months out of the year–juicy peaches, ripe tomatoes, tender summer squash, sweet watermelon, and fresh lima beans and field peas–bring back memories of the “vegetable meals” my mother made when I was growing up in Louisiana. Though bits of meat may have been used sparingly as seasoning, the real stars of the summertime table were the bowls of steaming green beans, creamy casseroles of squash and corn, fresh butterbeans in pools of savory “pot likker,” wedges of hearty cornbread, and crunchy slices of fried green tomatoes.
Fried green tomatoes is one of those traditional Southern dishes that everyone in the South makes a different way. It’s understandable that with states as different as Virginia and Texas forced under the same umbrella of “Southern,” there will be regional differences in recipes, but beyond regional differences, there are family traditions. One family in Starkville, Mississippi, may coat their green tomatoes in seasoned flour, while right down the road in Columbus another family prefers their tomatoes dredged in cornmeal. The variations are endless, but the three constants are green tomatoes, salt, and pepper. And frying, can’t forget the frying, which, rebel that I am, I just have to do.
My mother didn’t prepare fried green tomatoes very often, but when she did make them, she used cornmeal and got it to stick to the tomatoes by dipping them in an egg mixture first. So that’s what I do, except in my case a mixture of ground flax seeds and water takes the place of the egg and my oven takes the place of a greasy skillet.
The wonderful thing about preparing oven-fried green tomatoes–besides reducing the fat–is that you can prepare several other oven-cooked vegetables at the same time. I roasted okra and yellow squash next to my green tomatoes while a pot of fresh pinto beans spiked with home-grown jalapenos bubbled on the stove and a rice cooker full of basmati brown rice scented the air with its nutty aroma. Mmmm, say what you will about heat and humidity, life in the South is good.
Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground flax seed
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup quinoa flour or other flour
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch or other starch
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large green tomatoes
- Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
- Combine the water and ground flax seeds in a blender and blend at high speed for 30 seconds. Pour into a wide, shallow bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes to thicken slightly.
- In another wide bowl or plate, combine remaining ingredients (except tomatoes). Cut tomatoes into slices about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Submerge a tomato slice in the flax-water, allow excess to drip off, and place slice into cornmeal mixture. Press lightly to make sure that bottom of slice is covered with cornmeal and turn to coat other side. Place on prepared baking sheet.
- When all tomato slices are coated, bake for 15 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown. Turn and bake another 15 minutes to brown other side. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Nutritional info is approximate.
fresh365August 14, 2009 at 12:34 pm
I have always wanted to try fried green tomatoes (ever since the movie!). I love how you made these healthier. Yum!
KathyFAugust 14, 2009 at 12:42 pm
I remember those "vegetable meals" growing up in Louisiana, too. When I lived with my great-aunt (after her first heart attack, at age 91) I'd cook under her direction. She taught me to make okra and tomatoes and I loved nothing better than cooking up whatever vegetables her daughter brought us from the market.
We never made fried green tomatoes, though. I don't know if it was my fear of raw tomatoes or they just didn't do that in my family–we fried everything else though!
I really miss those lazy summers, sitting on the porch until dark, after watering the caladiums & azaleas. Nice memories you've provoked here!
cvAugust 14, 2009 at 1:05 pm
Wow! This sounds fabulous! Any chance the same technique would work with your favorite veggie, eggplant? Thanks!
MaryAugust 14, 2009 at 1:26 pm
That sounds like a fabulous meal. I wonder if there's any chance I could find green tomatoes in Maine? Unlikely. But you've reminded me to make a pot of pinto beans, and your Korean cucumber salad is on my list for this weekend.
parsnipsandsprocketsAugust 14, 2009 at 1:34 pm
I made eggplant parm the same way the other day, using flax seed instead of egg and baking it instead of frying – turned out beautifully!
I grew up in the south but have actually never had fried green tomatoes, I think it's time I do! Can't wait to try your recipe!
JosianeAugust 14, 2009 at 2:16 pm
I've never had fried green tomatoes, and I was a bit curious about them. Your version sounds great! I'm keeping it in mind for the next time I see green tomatoes.
jdAugust 14, 2009 at 3:25 pm
These look 100% fantastic!
I can't wait to try them, especially since I'm SO excited to use the beautiful heirloom tomatoes I found at Whole Foods the other day…
Thanks for "healthing up" such a yummy recipe!
TrishAugust 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm
These sound really really good!
Battling ObesityAugust 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm
I love fried green tomatoes. I will try your recipe. Thanks!
Susan LowryAugust 14, 2009 at 5:07 pm
Yum, the coating on these look really good! I want some for dinner tonight. Great recipe!
VegetationAugust 14, 2009 at 5:57 pm
I'm another one who's been fascinated by fried green tomatoes since the movie, but have yet to find green tomatoes in Australia. We occasionally get a red tinged green variety called Kumato which I think I might just have to try because this sounds yummy!
Dale KempAugust 14, 2009 at 6:46 pm
Reading your blog absolutely makes my mouth water. I don't usually comment but since I just love fried green tomatoes I had to tell you that I'm going to try your recipe.
It must be a southern thing because when I talk about fried green tomatoes here in Utah my friends wrinkle their noses and go "yuck". They just don't get it. How very fortunate for me that my mother spent time living in Alabama as a teenager.
PolonaAugust 15, 2009 at 5:16 am
I know there is even a film named Fried green tomatoes, but here in Europe we were always told that the green tomatoes contain solanine, a poisonous stuff that is bad for human.
Are you using some other kind of tomatoes or does this solanine turn into something nonpoisonous after baking/frying?
DJ KarmaAugust 15, 2009 at 7:13 am
I've been wanting to make this dish, since I have tons of green tomatoes in my garden now. Thanks for the healthier recipe!
moonwatcherAugust 15, 2009 at 3:29 pm
This was one of my favorite blog entries of yours. I loved reading about the summer suppers of all vegetables, and the myriad versions of fried green tomatoes there are from kitchen table to kitchen table. Reading about this reminded me of a poem a close friend of mine wrote back in grad school called "Root Beer," in which she writes about homemade root beer and sothern type summer dinners of fresh corn and tomatoes. So thanks for the images. .
The recipe is a keeper, too!! Thanks for being a rebel and coming up with a way to bake these in the oven! Although I'm not a Southerner, I tried them a few years ago when we had an abundance of green tomoatoes. Both my son and I loved them, but then had stomach aches from the greasiness of frying them. . now that I am low fat, this was a very welcome version.
I also took great delight in being able to make this the same day I read the entry! My neighbor who had to move away left an amazing garden full of ripening tomatoes, among other things, ,for all us neighbors who miss him to enjoy. So I all I had to do was go down the alley and pick some green tomatoes. Mine were smaller, but they worked fine. Since I am gluten free, I loved the suggestion of quinoa flour, which I find goes very well with cornmeal in other gluten free baked foods. The coating stuck to the tomatoes beautifully with the "flax egg," too. This will definitely be my "go to" "fried" green tomato recipe! I enjoyed mine with some steamed green beans and shallots from my own garden topped with a dab of the Esselystyn's miraculous walnut sauce, and a version of your international quinoa salad. Truly a celebration of summer.
Thanks again for all your marvelous writing and recipes, and sharing them with us so generously here.
Happy Harvest to you and all your readers–
fawnAugust 16, 2009 at 12:30 am
I made these last night with the okra but subbed baby zuc's for yellow squash and black eyed peas for pinto beans.
This recipe is one of your best! I have tried a bunch from this site and this is by FAR my favorite! Good work.
lydiatheperfectpantryAugust 16, 2009 at 7:24 am
Is quinoa flour something you can make by grinding dry quinoa?
AparnaAugust 16, 2009 at 7:34 am
These sound delicious. I once tried something like this with zucchini but they were more chewy than crisp. Do these tomato slices crisp in the oven?
SusanVAugust 16, 2009 at 8:52 am
Lydia, I by boxes of quinoa flour, but I'm sure it can be made in a grain mill or powderful blender. In this recipe, I thought that the slightly grassy taste of quinoa complemented the green tomatoes so I used it instead of another flour.
Aparna, the outer coating is crisp while the inside gets tender–nothing chewy about them!
pbAugust 17, 2009 at 1:27 am
This definitely seems more appealing than a deep fried version, mostly because I have a strong aversion to frying.
I am not sure why you used a flax mixture for the coating. is it just supposed to be a binder? Can you use, say, buttermilk for the coating? Won't the flax give a strong flavour?
I have never eaten 'traditional' fried green tomatoes – they are not common on restaurant menus even in VA. And the other difficulty is to actually get green tomatoes. I have never come across them in any store. I suppose growing your own tomatoes must be the best source.
I am going to try this anytime I manage to procure the green tomatoes.
PollyAugust 17, 2009 at 1:40 am
"…say what you will about heat and humidity, life in the South is good."
Amen Sistah Susan!
The Voracious VeganAugust 17, 2009 at 6:40 am
What a lip smacking picture! You are making me so hungry, this looks just great. YUM!
RecipeGirlAugust 17, 2009 at 9:28 am
These are gorgeous. I've always, always wanted to make fried green tomatoes. I need to spend some time in the South 🙂
AnonymousAugust 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm
Polona, Wikipedia has an article about solanine. You are right to say that green tomatoes have a significant amount of solanine. As for "Fried Green Tomatoes", the article goes on to say that the character played by Jessica Tandy even died of solanine poisoning. Perhaps we can take this delicious recipe and apply it to red, but still firm, tomatoes?
SusanVAugust 17, 2009 at 2:02 pm
I always take Wikipedia with a grain (or a shaker) of salt. In this case, they're omitting the info that cooking renders the solanine (actually tomatine) harmless. Here's a NYT article with some more up-to-date info, including the fact that you can even eat tomato leaves (but I wouldn't): Accused, Yes, but Probably Not a Killer
Here's part of it:
"And it’s a chemical gaffe to attribute tomato toxicity to solanine. Dr. Mendel Friedman of the federal Department of Agriculture, who has studied potato and tomato alkaloids for two decades, wrote in an e-mail message that commercial tomatoes contain tomatine. Solanine, he added, is a potato alkaloid.
"There are significant quantities of tomatine in green tomato fruits, which people have long eaten fried and pickled. And tomatine appears to be a relatively benign alkaloid.
"In 2000, Dr. Friedman and colleagues reported that when lab animals ingest tomatine, essentially all of it passes through the animal unabsorbed. The alkaloid apparently binds to cholesterol in the digestive system, and the combination is excreted — ridding the body of both alkaloid and cholesterol."
Let's also remember that Fried Green Tomatoes was fiction.
TaKatAugust 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm
I must say I've never had these, and I can't even imagine what they would taste like? Is there any tomato taste at all? Or is it utterly different?
I must try them!
Writing away about my latest 3 week adventure through China at http://katacomb.blogspot.com
haleysuzanneAugust 17, 2009 at 9:22 pm
If eating fried green tomatoes was dangerous, everyone in the South would be dead, and I would have already passed on long ago.
With that said, Susan, I love this recipe for preparing the tomatoes in the oven. I usually skip any kind of egg or egg-replacement dip altogether. I dredge them in flour, then let them sit and draw out their natural juices, then dredge them again. They're lightly breaded, but nice and crunchy.
Moon CatAugust 18, 2009 at 11:19 am
I made these last night and they turned out terrific. I love the flax seed and water mixture in place of egg. Thanks so much for a great recipe!
reddheddAugust 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm
Great pic…the only thing I do differently is add a pinch of cayenne to the cornmeal.
This is my FAVORITE summertime treat.
Green tomatoes, for those who don't know, are simply tomatoes that haven't turned red yet…and they don't taste like red tomatoes at all. I grow tomatoes, but I've also seen green ones for sale in Kroger and Publix. For whatever reason, they are more expensive than ripe ones.
You could also try a farmstand, but where ever you go…try this recipe!
A_and_NAugust 18, 2009 at 5:10 pm
Susan, this is sheer brilliance. Can't wait to try it!
AnonymousAugust 18, 2009 at 8:41 pm
My boyfriend's garden was about to be destroyed by flying debris from the next door neighbor's re-roofing, so we decided to pick the yet unripe tomatoes rather than let them go to waste. I didn't have all the ingredients, just the tomatoes and store bought seasoned breadcrumbs, so I dredged half the tomatoes in breadcrumbs and the other half were dipped in vegetable oil before being dredged. The non-oil ones were dry and slightly crunchy, while the oiled ones had more of the crispy fried texture. I followed the baking directions closely, and we loved both!
FoodTravelDivaAugust 18, 2009 at 10:41 pm
Looks so healthy, especially with the Flax seeds. Isn't southern food good?! Though I didn't grow in the South (or the US for that matter) I do like Southern cooking. Thanks, Susan!
SaganAugust 19, 2009 at 6:35 pm
This is an excellent idea! It sounds so delicious. I bet adding in some extra spices would make it super flavourful, too.
DawnAugust 21, 2009 at 10:10 am
Susan–I can't wait to try these. I'm originally from AL and miss Southern food! I make a mock fried okra in the oven sometimes too. It actually turns out pretty good. I am currently making a combination of your Italian Layered Vegetable Casserole and My Favorite Lasagna. It looks beautiful waiting to be baked! I'll let you know how it turns out.
stolonsandrhizomesAugust 22, 2009 at 6:09 pm
This is a great recipe. I had to pick some green tomatoes off my plants yesterday to give some of the others more room to grow. I was surprised at how crispy these were despite being baked rather than fried, and I think I actually prefer them this way. Definitely a keeper. A side note: I discovered that a melon baller works great to remove the cores on green tomatoes.
TERESAAugust 24, 2009 at 5:30 pm
lightly spritzing these with vegetable oil gives them a crispy fried type coating
lucky me I have a dozen large green toms from my mom's garden:)
Candace Jean July 16August 31, 2009 at 7:06 pm
I love FGT – can't wait to try this. Do you think you could use chia seeds instead of flax? They form a nice gel, very similar to egg.
SusanVAugust 31, 2009 at 8:39 pm
I think chia seeds should work as well as flax. Good luck!
Chef EdwinSeptember 13, 2009 at 6:36 am
I've never cooked with or eaten green tomatoes. Would this work with red or are the two too different?