"Fried Green Tomatoes" is the first movie I watched with my fiancée in Ukraine. Back then I didn't even have a thought that I would someday live in the LowCountry and that fried green tomatoes would be included in my collection of recipes.
Fast forward, upon moving to the US (Boston area), I hadn't yet seen fried green tomatoes on a menu. However, in 2010 during my first visit to the South, we dined one evening at a downtown restaurant in Savannah. When I opened the menu, the first appetizer option was "Fried Green Tomatoes"
OMG, how has life changed since then, right?
We got older, or I prefer to say more mature, had two kiddos and one on the way. However, I still have memories about the first movie I watched in a small apartment in Kiev, and of the first time I ate fried green tomatoes in Savannah.
If you ever get a chance to dine out in the South during the summer months, and they are on the menu, order them. This is an iconic dish that tells a lot about the South. Better yet, don't wait to travel to the South or dine in a restaurant, make them yourself with the recipe that I am sharing with you.
As you know me by now, I'm not generally a big fan of fried food, but in this case, I make an exception. At least once a year, I must indulge myself in eating these deliciously prepared tomatoes for they take me back to watching the Fried Green Tomatoes movie with my husband, and that first enjoyable summer in the South.
What is different about my fried green tomatoes?
The good balance of sweet breading, the tartness of unripe green tomatoes combined with spicy aioli makes for an amazing, tasty experience!
This delightful dish is beautiful in its flavor and simplicity of preparation. Everyone can make them and only a few ingredients are needed.
While I was experimenting with the creation of this recipe, one of my friend-neighbors, who was born and raised in the South, told me to use cornbread for the breadcrumbs. It was her mom's way of preparing this dish (who also was a great chef and of French heritage). This was an ingredient I had never considered using for this recipe.
Cornbread is a favorite food to eat in the LowCountry! When made from true stone ground corn, cornbread is hearty and delicious. My boys are southern boys, so cornbread is one of their favorite things to have as a snack. My cornbread recipe will be available in the next upcoming post so don't miss it.
How to buy and store green tomatoes
In the summer I think every supermarket carries green tomatoes, but it's even better if you can get them from a farm or your neighbor who has a garden. Though unripe tomatoes are not as nutritious as ripe ones, still green tomatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and beta-carotene.
I recommend that you fry them the same day of purchase. However, if you plan to keep them for a few days, it is best that they are stored in the fridge, for they will ripen pretty quickly.
If you leave them by the window in your fruit basket, there's a great chance that the next day they will be pink. No worries, they will still be ok to use but not ideal.
What do I need to make them?
There are just a few ingredients, so please use quality ones, since each ingredient speaks for itself.
Green tomatoes - choose ones that are firm and have a bright green color. Medium size is the best in my opinion.
Frying oil - it's up to you which one to use as long as the oil has a high smoke point. In my kitchen you will never find any modern oils, like canola, saffron oil, soy etc. On the rare occasions in which I fry food, I use grapeseed or avocado oil.
Eggs - to be used for the egg wash. I like to add a splash of milk.
Flour - all-purpose flour. I prefer organic.
Breadcrumbs - cornbread crumbs provide great flavor, so please don't substitute this ingredient.
Do I Have to Use Crème Fraiche To Make Pimento Aioli?
You can use heavy cream instead of crème fraiche. I grew up in Ukraine with crème fraiche (cultured cream), and that's what I prefer to use in most of my cooking. It is slightly tart and has a more complex flavor profile compared to heavy cream. As you know, I truly believe fermented food is magic food; so using crème fraiche would be my first choice before sour cream or even yogurt in this recipe.
Where Can I Buy Crème Fraiche?
Any health food store or international market should carry it as well as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.
How To Make Your Own Crème Fraiche?
This nutty, buttery, type of soured cream can be hard to find in regular grocery stores.
Basically it's cultured (fermented cream) that is amazing to use and have on hand. In my house we use it as sour cream or regular cream. I love using créme fraiche to create creamy salad dressings, sauces, and aioli, whip it with honey or fruit and use as a topping for cakes and cupcakes.
There are many ways to make crème fraiche but let me provide you with the easiest way to make it:
Take 1-2 cups of heavy cream, organic if possible and add a few Tablespoons of plain kefir, stir and cover. Then leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours. Once made, store it in the refrigerator for several weeks. The crème fraiche can be used in cooking even when heat is required, but keep in mind, most of the good bacteria will be killed. Here are two of my favorite recipes:
How to serve fried green tomatoes
The most common way I like to serve them is as an appetizer with pimento aioli.
Pimento is another Southern staple and can be found in any supermarket in jars packaged whole or diced. They give a little kick without overly spicing up the sauce.
Feel free to pair your fried green tomatoes with any sauce.
Check out here for a few more ideas for aioli.
You can also top them on a salad, or use for a sandwich such as a BLT. Try it and I promise you will make it again.
Let's do it...
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Serves: 2 - 3 portions as an appetizer
Ingredients for the tomatoes
2 green tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
11/2 cups cornbread crumbs
splash of milk
oil for frying (in the video I used grapeseed oil)
Ingredients for the aioli
2 Tablespoons of diced pimento peppers (no juice)
1/2 cup of mayonnaise (in the video I used homemade mayo)
1/2 cup of crème fraiche (sour cream or Greek yogurt)
1 Tablespoon of spicy brown mustard
1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
a splash of hot sauce
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika (option)
1. Slice tomatoes a 1/2 inch thick. Place them on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for a minute or two, then turn over and repeat.
2. Wipe off the excess salt and water with a paper towel.
4. Set out two other bowls: place flour in one bowl and breadcrumbs in the other bowl. Please, watch the video on how to make the cornbread crumbs.
5. Dip the slices into the flour to coat, next dip them into the egg mixture, and then dredge in the breadcrumbs until completely coated.
6. In a large skillet, pour in oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat on a low to medium setting. Place tomatoes into the frying pan a few batches at a time. Don't let them touch each other. Cook for a few minutes on low-medium heat. When they have browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Set them on a paper towel and allow the excess oil to soak into the paper towel.
7. To make aioli, whisk all ingredients together and pour into a serving bowl.
Serve immediately, and enjoy maybe with a glass of ice tea.