Here's a fun fact for you all: my dad is a tomato expert. No, literally. That was his job. For 40 years.
Growing up in the household of a tomato expert, you come to learn a bit about tomatoes. Among other things, my sister and I became very familiar with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, a wonderful little movie we watched over and over on our Beta player (which my dad still has, and which still works in the year 2015. He is a man of many talents.)
You may think it somewhat astonishing in the home of a tomato expert that we never, ever ate fried green tomatoes. I think part of that had to do with the fact that my mom and dad are from the Midwest, and fried green tomatoes are more of a Southern thang. Despite the fact that we were raised in what is technically considered to be "the south," I did not eat these little delicacies until I was in college and spent a summer working in Appalachia. Let me tell you something: fried green tomatoes are delish - IF you cook them right.
As I was winterizing my garden, I found some last little tomatoes hanging on for dear life. The plants were clearly on their last leg, so I picked the green tomatoes and took them home to experiment. More specifically, I wanted to try to make fried green tomatoes. And also wanted to play with them and pretend they were from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, attacking my unsuspecting dog. We have fun.
I am not usually a huge fan of most fried items because they get really greasy and make me feel not so great. I am, however, a big fan of baking things that are supposed to be fried, so I tested out baking the tomatoes instead. Also, I wanted to add some spice to them to be more like some fried green tomatoes I had recently at a New Orleans-style restaurant. Being from Maryland, I of course turned to my trusty secret weapon: OLD BAY! If you don't have Old Bay, go buy some immediately. Just kidding. Use another spice combo to your liking. (But seriously, you should go buy some Old Bay).
Old Bay Fried Green Tomatoes
Recipe Type: Side Dish | Author: Edible Terrain
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Yield: 4 servings
- 4 medium green tomatoes, cut into 1/4" slices (see note below about ripeness)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- pinch pepper
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Sprinkle both sides of tomato slices liberally with salt, and then with pepper.
- In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs and Old Bay.
- Dip tomatoes into bread crumb mixture on both sides to coat with the crumbs.
- Sprinkle olive oil on each side of the tomatoes and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake 10 minutes. Then flip tomato slices and bake another 10 minutes.
- Serve hot.
Now, time for my SUPER IMPORTANT LESSON LEARNED:
You can see in some of the photos that I used quite a variety of green tomatoes - different varieties, and also different ages and ripeness/greenness. I learned that if you pick very immature (i.e. small, not full-grown) tomatoes and try to eat those as green tomatoes, they will be extremely bitter and will not taste good. Not only will they not taste good, but they will destroy your taste buds for the rest of the day and ruin anything else you try to eat. Yeah, they are that bad. The best ones that turned out for me were the ones that were clearly full-sized, but had not ripened to red yet.
So what to do with those little green guys that don't work well in green tomato recipes? An old friend mentioned that they would ripen if I kept them on the counter, and in fact, the ones I didn't cook up have done just that. So if you don't have a hunkerin' for green tomatoes, just give them some time, and they will be regular tomatoes. Thank you Chris for this tip!