Meatless Monday: Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes.  I always loved the movie.  A beautiful and heartwarming story of friendships past and present.  As a bonus woven throughout the movie are references and stories about food.  My first experience with fried green tomatoes was while watching this movie.  Interestingly my mouth watered as I watched them being fried up at the Whistle Stop Cafe.  They were covered in a nice coating of flour and fried up in an iron skillet, much like the one I have at home now.  I wondered silently about those green tomatoes as I watched, “Were fried green tomatoes really good?”  Still in high school at the time, I wasn’t much of a cook back then and the wondering never moved much past just wondering.

Flash forward several years later and I still had not tasted a fried green tomato.  I don’t believe I actually had one until after I was married to Eric.  He was the one that made them one night for dinner if I remember it correctly.  Back then I was also married to my recipes and never really tried to make anything without one.  I remember the first bite.  Warm, tasting of sunshine, tart, with a crisp outer crust and a much firmer flesh than red tomatoes, it was utterly delicious.  After a generous sprinkling of kosher salt I was in heaven and it left me wanting more.  To this day a summer doesn’t go by without a side of fried green tomatoes for at least one meal.

So far this year my mom and I have canned 40 quarts of tomato sauce.  As we were making sure to pick all the ripe tomatoes we could find, I noticed there were so many green cherry tomatoes.  They were utterly beautiful with thick pale green skins a contrast to the veining of a slightly darker green.  Clinging to the vine in little groups of clusters, I admired them.  What could I do with these beauties I wondered to myself.  Eric and I have also been watching back episodes of Chopped and I love how creative the chefs are with the mystery ingredients.  Then it popped into my mind.  I love fried green tomatoes but the one draw back is the mess they can create in the kitchen.  While dipping them in the flour, then egg wash, and finally panko, I manage to have a lot of debris on my kitchen floor.  I decided to make a “fried” green tomato casserole.

While it may not be the most imaginative thing to come up with it was really delicious.  Eric told me if I had made that on Chopped, I would have surely won!  It has all the taste of fried green tomatoes without being fried.  It is tart, warm, tasting of sunshine, with a nice crustiness from loads of a wonderful topping.  I would venture to say it is a little bit more healthful and is a lot less messy than the fried version.  I loved using the green cherry tomatoes. They were extremely easy to layer in the baking dish and held their shape very well in the oven.  Topping the tomatoes with a thick layer of panko mixture gave the nice crunch that is so desired.  If you love fried green tomatoes, give this simple recipe a try.  It makes a wonderful side to a bowl of basmati rice and a simple salad of baby lettuces.

"Fried" Green Tomato Casserole
Recipe by:
  • 2-3 pints green tomatoes
  • 1½ cup panko
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup italian parsley chopped
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • good quality olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. Combine panko, cheese, italian parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Clean and cut cherry tomatoes in halve. Place half of tomato halves in single layer over bottom of 8x11x2 inch baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Place half of panko mixture evenly over first layer of tomatoes. Drizzle generously with olive oil.
  5. Layer remaining tomato halves in single layer over panko. Top with remaining panko mixture and drizzle again with olive oil.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until tomatoes are slightly softened and panko layer is golden brown.


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