I participated in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program for the first time this summer. I’m so accustomed to choosing recipes based on what I feel like eating or which ingredients are on sale that I thought it would be a nice challenge to force myself to use whatever showed up on my doorstep. I ended up with some beautiful produce and had a number of “firsts”; what I didn’t anticipate, though, is that my CSA participation would fundamentally change how I like to cook. Since I had oodles of vegetables to use each week, it made sense to cook them simply (usually on the grill or in the oven, with olive oil, salt, and pepper) and then serve some kind of meat (often grilled pork chops!) on the side. No long ingredient lists, no labor-intensive recipes, just simple and delicious food. For better or for worse, I now have a very low tolerance for lots of prep work and long cooking times. We’ll see if I have a surge in cooking energy as fall fades to winter.
Anyway, I received my last CSA delivery of the season on Saturday and it included a whole pile of green tomatoes. Though I rarely fry anything, I decided that fried green tomatoes were a must. Most of the recipes I found online had lots of ingredients (egg, cornmeal, flour, spices) – too much work. I was intrigued, though, by a comment on an Allrecipes recipe where a woman said she just dredged them in self-rising flour and fried them. That comment was the beginning of this super simple recipe.
Simplest Fried Green Tomatoes
Firm green tomatoes
Self-rising flour (I prefer White Lily)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Pour vegetable oil into a cast-iron skillet until it’s 1/2 inch deep. Heat over medium heat to 350°F.
Meanwhile, slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Place flour (measurement depends on how many tomatoes you plan to fry; start with 1/4 – 1/2 cup) in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.
When the oil is hot enough, dredge enough tomato slices in the flour to fit in the skillet without touching; carefully drop them in the skillet. Fry until golden brown (about 2 – 4 minutes per side, depending on the size of your tomato slices and any variations in the oil temperature). Drain on paper towels. Repeat with any remaining tomatoes and serve warm.
For something so simple, these were amazing. The tomatoes were tender (but not mushy), the coating was light and crisp, and the flavor was fantastic. I had some fried green tomatoes with a thick cornmeal crust at Second Home in Denver a couple of months ago, and I have to say I enjoyed these more. I think the key to success with this one is seasoning the tomatoes and flour with confidence; don’t be shy.
You know how much I love make-ahead things, so I just had to try reheating these in a 350°F oven (with a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet) the next day to see what would happen. Fries can be re-crisped, so why not tomatoes? Because of their high water content, that’s why. The coating was too sogged out after a night in the refrigerator to bounce back. At least I tried.