After my mother’s summer/fall harvest of tomato plants in our backyard, we decided to try our hand at the infamous fried green tomatoes. Popularized by Western media in the award-winning 1991 film by the same name (based on the 1987 novel by Fannie Flagg), fried green tomatoes have been thought to be a staple in the American South for years. The earliest recipes for the dish were dated between 1900 and 1919, surprisingly all from newspapers in northern states.
Interestingly enough, the Alabama cafe on which the fictional “Fried Green Tomatoes” was based had no history of serving fried green tomatoes, other than perhaps an occasional side item. It turns out that the origins of this delicacy are in the Midwest and Northeast, assumed to be linked with Jewish immigrants, due to a recipe appearing in “The International Jewish Cook Book” in 1919.
Unexpected origin story aside, fried green tomatoes are a quick and tasty side dish, incorporating a nutritious, immunity-boosting vegetable!
- 4-6 large, unripe green tomatoes
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup cornmeal
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch- to 1/2-inch-wide slices. Lightly sprinkle the slices with salt and pepper.
- Let stand for 15 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat 1/2 an inch of oil in a large skillet over medium heat to 360 F.
- Meanwhile, set out two wide and shallow bowls. Beat the eggs and pour them into the first bowl. In the second bowl, add the cornmeal.
- With one hand, dip the tomato slices in the beaten eggs and transfer them to the cornmeal bowl. Grab the tomato slice with the other hand and coat with cornmeal thoroughly.
- When the oil reaches 360 F, add several of the coated tomato slices without crowding the pan. Fry them for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Gently turn and fry the other side until brown.
- Drain on paper towels and transfer to a cooling rack. Keep warm in a low oven as you fry subsequent batches.
- Serve immediately. A common pairing is with ranch dressing.
This ended up being a relatively easy and satisfying side dish! It’s certainly an acquired taste, but I look forward to experimenting some more.