Saturday, August 27, 2005

IMBB #18: Not-So-Fried Green Tomatoes

Frying is the theme of this 18th edition of Is My Blog Burning, hosted by Linda of At our table. Now, I am not a big fryer. Don't get me wrong, fried food tastes good. Great even. But I want and like to eat healthy when I'm eating at home.
Last year, I had a great dinner at B. Smith's restaurant in New York. I ordered Fried Green Tomatoes as an appetiser. It isn't something that commonly pops up on menus out here in California. Fried green tomatoes are a classic Southern dish made from unripe tomatoes. Green tomatoes are pleasantly firm and more crunchy than their riper counterparts. They have a hint of tomato flavor, but taste rather lemony. Green tomatoes are best when nearing ripeness. They should be juicy around the seeds, but be far less juicy than any ripe tomato. This firmness makes them great candidates for both breading and frying.
I decided to oven fry my green tomatoes. I did take B. Smith's advice and was sure to use celery salt in my recipe. I added breadcrumbs for an extra crunch, but the texture of the cornmeal is imperative for a classic touch. The coating crisps up nicely in the oven and the tomato retains its shape but becomes soft in the center.

Oven Fried Green Tomatoes
3 large green tomatoes
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (preferably Panko)
1 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk

Turn on your broiler and place oven rack about 4 inchs away. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Slice tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices.
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, and spices. Pour into a flat, shallow dish. Whisk together egg and buttermilk in a small bowl.
Dip tomato slices in egg mixture and then dredge in cornmeal mixture. Lay tomato slices onto baking sheet and spray lightly with vegetable oil.
Bake for 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Flip and bake an additional 3-4 minutes, until browned.
Serve immediately with ranch dressing or salsa and sour cream.

For a more traditional version - actually fried green tomatoes - check out Caryn's IMBB entry! Great minds think alike. And either way, your tastebuds will thank you.