Texas Living

A Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe and Love Affair

By Eve Hill-Agnus 7.1.19

There’s something uniquely alluring about green tomatoes, the unripe fruits that we think of as vegetables.

I’d never encountered green tomatoes on a plate before I moved to Texas eight years ago, even though my grandfather was Texan, born in Corpus Christi and raised in Topeka, Kansas. I had never tasted sweet-tart, pickled watermelon rind, either, or drunk frosted glasses of tea with the sweet lull of sugar or scooped fresh-churned peach ice cream. I was uninitiated.

But I immediately learned to love the tart green jewels.

Photo by Natalie Goff

Pick Them Unripe

I love picking them — the snap of the sturdy stem; the pungent, grassy smell of tomato leaf; and that unmistakable, fresh aroma of cut green tomato vine. It seems almost wrong to harvest them: unblemished, hard and translucent as jade, and just a shade lighter than their stems, the orb-shaped prizes hang almost camouflaged under a delicate canopy of hairy branches in a profusion of leaves.

But snapped off the stem when they’re still unripe — and not to be confused with heirloom varieties like the variegated Green Zebra — they bring punch and zing to gremolatas and chutneys. Their greenness is vegetal like green bell pepper or cucumber, with a hint of softness that lurks around the edges.

Photo by Natalie Goff

Eat Them Four Ways

In Mexico, there is much love given to the tomatillo, a husk-covered cousin that also belongs to the nightshade family. In the sweltering heat of Texas summers, I saw the way the first crop of unripe tomatoes brought puckery brightness to a salsa verde; the way they worked themselves into tangy pickles. Grilled and layered with burrata, they were a dream.

And battered in cornmeal and fried, they’re a Southern delicacy and summer favorite that I soon learned to love.

Photo by Natalie Goff

Try This Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe

Chef Graham Dodds, a forager by fancy and a sometimes-beekeeper on the side, finesses farm ingredients and cooks with the seasons. Dodds opened Bolsa, largely introducing farm-to-table to Dallas. Make his fried green tomatoes recipe at home:

Slice green tomatoes and dust lightly with seasoned flour. Dip dusted rounds in a mixture of water-thinned buttermilk and whisked egg (trust your eye on the measurements). For a final coating, Dodds pulses most of his cornmeal into a fine powder in a food processor, then adds a bit of cornmeal for texture and a dash of all-purpose flour. Dip, then fry until golden brown and crisp.

Dig in to more summer recipes with your favorite cherries.

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