Blessed or cursed with a big harvest of tomatoes in your home garden – but they’re all still green, with the frost coming on! You know what that’s like? I’ve always ended up with a few unripened tomatoes at the end of the summer, but nothing like the huge numbers of those green globes that are driving me on a big Green Tomato Recipe Treasure Hunt this year.
A good feed of fried green tomatoes, either as a snack with dipping sauce or as a lunch meal on its own, is a great place to start. One of my favorite Fall dishes, in fact. But this season, instead of just plating up the hot breaded slices as my mother always did, I’m trying out a variety of different dishes that call for slices of regular ripe red garden tomatoes and just substituting in the fried green ones.1 BL(green)T, for example – the classic BLT with bacon, lettuce and tomato on the bread of your choice. I’d go for a lightly grilled homemade white bread for this one – what about you? If you’ve got just a few fried green tomatoes left over after a meal, making a BLT-type sandwich for lunch the next day would be a great way to use up those last few slices.
If you want to get fancy, change up your sandwich to taste. For example, Disneyland’s Hungry Bear Restaurant does the sandwich with the addition of regular ripe red tomatoes as well as the fried green tomatoes (dredged with cornmeal for the frying instead of flour, by the way). And instead of just plain mayonaise they use a liberal amount of a mango-and-jicama slaw plus a drizzle of remoulade, a mayo-like sauce of French origin – all on a whole wheat roll.
That’s a start, but if you’re going to use up all those green tomatoes without sending the family into full-scale revolt against yet another meal of them, you’ve got to have lots of variety!
More Tasty Ways with Green Tomatoes2 Green Tomato and Swiss Chard Gratin, to start with. This dish from the New York Times “Recipes for Health” series is not only low-fat and healthy, but a great way to use up the end of your Swiss chard greens as well as the last of the tomato harvest. Bonus, you can do a lot of the prep ahead of time, if you’re pressed for time. My only change to this delectable dish is to sub in whole-grain flour for the cornmeal used for dredging, just because I never seem to have cornmeal on hand in the pantry. Definitely, do stick with the Gruyere cheese in this dish – it makes all the difference. 3 Martha Stewart’s site has a recipe for Scalloped Green Tomatoes that looks interesting, too – basically a savory cream sauce and bread crumbs over thin-sliced green tomatoes, baked. I haven’t tried that specific recipe yet, but I have substituted paper-thin slices of green tomatoes for other vegetables in a variety of “scallop” and au gratin recipes, with various degrees of success. 4 Curried Green Tomatoes ( Classic Cookery blog) are Kerry the classic cook’s own adaptation of an old Boston Cooking School Cookbook recipe. I’ve got a 1940s-vintage edition of that old Fannie Farmer cookbook myself – fair to say I learned to cook from its pages – and can vouch for the original recipe. Kerry has updated the traditional curried vegetable dish with roasted peppers, garbanzo beans, garlic and spices, and coconut milk, then applied the immersion blender just enough to make a smooth soup with lots of nice big colorful chunky bits left in. Yum! 5 Spaghetti con Pomodori Verdi (Spaghetti with Green Tomatoes) (NPR.org Arts & Life) is a recipe adapted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home, one of the terrific cookbooks by FoodNetwork star and famed Italian chef Mario Batali. This chunky pasta sauce has an interesting blend of mint, basil, garlic, Italian parsley, green tomatoes and arugala, seasoned and topped with a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano-reggiano cheese. 6 Green Tomato Soup with Ham (Epicurious) is a savory chunky soup based on chicken broth, onions and garlic, chopped green tomatoes and chopped ham. Instead of the ham, you can use chunks of the smoked meat of your choice, kielbasa or Canadian peameal bacon – whatever you have on hand and whatever your family prefers. (Some kids like this soup a lot, but it may be too “gourmet” for your picky eaters – maybe save it for a grown-ups-only dinner?) This soup gets even better if it’s simmered for a little longer than the 20 minutes called for in the recipes, but you don’t want to overdo it or the tomatoes will lose their shape. Save a few calories by topping with a dollop of low-fat plain yogurt instead of sour cream. 7 Green Tomato Dessert Bars (Taste of Home) is a recipe originally published in Country Woman magazine, years ago. These dessert bars are a lot like homemade date squares, but with a sweet concoction of green tomatoes instead of the dates mixture between the layers. Green tomatoes are cooked up with brown sugar, spread over an oatmeal cookie-type base and topped with a crumble mixture before baking. Delicious served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but even better served at room temperature the next day. 8 And if you’re a fan of sweet quick breads (like zucchini bread, for example), check out Michele Morris’s Green Tomato Bread at Cooking with Michele – a perfect solution for when you just can’t face cooking with any more of the darned things! Puree whatever green tomatoes you’ve got left and freeze the mush in measured units, either to use in Michele’s recipe or to substitute for grated zucchini or applesauce in your own favorite quick bread and muffin recipes.
What’s your best recipe to use green tomatoes?