Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes are a crispy and tangy side dish usually found in the Southern part of the USA.  This iconic Southern dish was made popular by the book and subsequent movie, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

The novel, written by Fannie Flagg, was published in 1987 and released as a movie in 1991.  I can recommend the book and suggest reading it before watching the movie.  If you don’t want to buy the book or movie, check out your local library.  My library has the book (handover and digital) and the movie on DVD for loan.

The novel is a tale of the South with two time periods, the Great Depression and 1985.  The two time periods are brought together through the stories of the elderly Mrs. Threadgoode.

While the book does have a lot of folksy type Southern humor, there is a dark side to the novel.  Segregation, racial prejudice, threats from the scary and dangerous Ku klux klan, and domestic abuse are just some of the happenings in the book.  Plus, there are the two tragic accidents involving the train that runs through Whistle Stop.

To offset some of the darkness, there is the love story between Idgie and Ruth and the friendship between Ninny Threadgoode and Evelyn Couch.

And then, we have Sipsey and Big George.  Sipsey is the wonderful African American Southern cook who fried up the green tomatoes at the cafe; and Big George is her son who did all the barbecuing.  Sipsey’s food is legendary.  She and Big George are household help but at the same time part of the family, and do what is necessary to protect Ruth and her baby.

There are a lot of references to all the good Southern food that is cooked up at the cafe.  You will definitely get hungry reading the book.  This is one of my favorite quotes from the book, as spoken by Ninny:  “Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a plate of fried green tomatoes like we used to have at the cafe.”

There are several recipes given at the end of the book, including the one for Fried Green Tomatoes.  It is actually a simple recipe:  “green tomatoes, salt and pepper, corn meal,  and bacon fat.  The seasoned tomatoes are dipped in the corn meal and then fried in the bacon fat”.  I haven’t made the tomatoes according to Sipsey’s recipe but if fried in bacon fat must be good.

We have a new restaurant in East Grand Rapids, the Carolina Low Country Kitchen that lives up to its name.  Not only does it serve shrimp and grits but fried green tomatoes are on the menu.  The tomatoes are served as an appetizer with a remoulade type sauce.  They are absolutely delicious and presented beautifully.  Below is a picture I took of them the last time we were there.

Now, I sometimes serve the tomatoes I make with a remoulade sauce.  Here is the recipe I use.

Green tomatoes are simply unripe red tomatoes.  I have found them at farmers markets and on occasion at my local grocery store.  Green tomatoes will be very firm to the touch.  Try to use them as soon as you can because they will start to ripen rather quickly.  Be aware that some Heirloom tomatoes are green when ripe, so don’t mistake the two.

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups breadcrumbs (1 cup Panko and 1 cup regular breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 1 pound)
vegetable oil for frying
Fresh basil, optional

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour with the salt and pepper.  Beat egg and milk in a shallow bowl.  In another bowl, combine all the breadcrumbs with the parmesan cheese.

Dip each tomato slice into the flour and then dip into the egg  and milk mixture, letting any excess drip back into the bowl.  Then, coat in the Panko bread crumb mixture.  Place tomato slices on a prepared baking sheet.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until oil begins to shimmer.  Fry the tomatoes in batches until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Drain on a baking tray lined with paper towels.  Garnish with basil, if desired.  Best served while hot.

The tomatoes can be served with a remoulade sauce or with Ranch dressing, if desired.



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