Fried Green Tomato Caprese Salad

Grocery stores do not typically carry green tomatoes.  Purple, yellow, orange heirloom tomatoes, yes; tart green ones, perfect for making faux tomatillo sauce or fried green tomatoes, no.  Last summer I thought I’d try a fried green tomato caprese salad, and it was really, really fun.  Breaded and pan-fried crispy tart green tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and sweet basalmic vinegar–it was a caprese salad 2.0.

This summer we moved.  We don’t have a garden yet.  We don’t have a yard, yet.  We have plans, though–really big, gorgeous garden arbor, raised beds, garden wall, natural blackberry and raspberry fence plans.  I can see it, and it’s going to be really great.

But right now, in the thick of summer, I really wanted to make that fried green tomato caprese salad…so I asked some new friends if they would loan me some green tomatoes.  Ok, more like give me to have and devour green tomatoes.  I luckily had some willing green-tomato givers.

When I pan-fry something, I always use panko breadcrumbs; I think the results are crispier.  But when I reached for my panko container, it was totally empty.  Rats.  So I made do with what I had (and the more traditional southern pan-fry coating): cornmeal.  I decided to mix cornmeal and flour, to help the cornmeal not be a burned-too-crunchy-cornmeal texture, and they turned out great.

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I also had a SWAT team helper, taking a break from duty to help me arrange tomatoes and fresh basil leaves on the plate.  That’s the funny thing: my little guys love helping me in the kitchen, love stirring and mixing and scooping, and they always tell me it “smells so great” and “looks so “bee-you-tee-full”, mommy”, and “I am so excited to taste it, mommy”.  And then I prepare a bowl for them, and they take one look and walk away.  Some day…some day they will eat me out of house and home…

fried green tomato caprese salad

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FRIED GREEN TOMATO CAPRESE SALAD

  • Servings: 2-4, if you are willing to share
  • Difficulty: easy
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You can make this salad as big or as little as you would like.  If your green tomatoes are large, I would estimate one tomato per person; if they are small, two per person.  

SALAD INGREDIENTS

  • 6 small green tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 large red tomatoes sliced, or a mix-match of mini heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
  • Fresh mozzarella medallions
  • A handful of baby basil leaves, or larger leaves julienned
  • Drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

PAN-FRY ASSEMBLY LINE INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour in one shallow bowl
  • 2 eggs, beaten in another shallow bowl
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1 tsp italian seasoning, and 1 tsp each of salt and pepper mixed together in a third shallow bowl

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan.
  2. Dab both sides of the green tomato slices dry with a paper towel.  Working with 3-4 slices at a time, first coat both sides of a slice with flour, then move to the egg bowl and coat both sides, then move to the flour/cornmeal mixture and coat both sides.
  3. Gently place in the frying pan.  You should be able to comfortably fit 3-4 slices at a time.  Watch until they are golden brown and flip.  Once they are browned on both sides, let them rest on a cooling rack.  They will stay crispier on the rack vs. just laying them on a paper towel or a plate.
  4. Continue until all your green tomatoes are fried.
  5. Arrange your salad however you would like!  You can make fun towers alternating fried green tomatoes, red tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella; just layer the fried green tomatoes and mozzarella, and cluster the mini tomatoes on the plate, etc.  Sprinkle the fresh basil over top and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  You can also sprinkle more salt and pepper, if desired.

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Faux Tomatillo Sauce

I love the lemony-limey tartness of tomatillos.  We grew them in our garden a few years ago–I was so excited to have the little stalks growing the husked green balls I was planning on turning into my favorite green sauce.  At the end of the season, though, I think I harvested enough tomatillos to make only 4-6 cups of sauce!

Our tomato plants, though, they were producing like crazy.  It was getting cooler outside and we still had so many tomato plants with pounds and pounds of green tomatoes.  I thought, “Why not treat the green tomatoes like tomatillos?!  They have the same tart flavor profile!”  Thus was born my Faux Tomatillo Sauce–I never use tomatillos anymore, as long as I have a garden I have an abundance of green tomatoes!  And I always make extra to freeze and enjoy all winter long!

So easy to make–you just roast everything together in the oven, then add a few more ingredients in the blender, and voila, you have a green sauce ready for enchiladas, chips and dip, or quesadillas.  I even jarred this up for festive Christmas presents one year–green faux tomatillo sauce and red cranberry-orange syrup.  You are going to look forward to having a ton of leftover green tomatoes from your garden!

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tomatillo sauce


FAUX TOMATILLO SAUCE

  • Servings: makes 4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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I love roasting vegetables to add an extra depth of flavor to sauces or soups.  I usually make at least two batches at a time and freeze some to enjoy all winter long–one whiff of this freshly made sauce and your mouth will start watering for those Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas!  This would also make a really delicious fresh salsa if you wanted to blend all the ingredients raw.

INGREDIENTS

  • 20 small green tomatoes, green tops cut off and sliced in half
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut in a large dice
  • 6-8 large garlic cloves, whole
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and ribbed, cut in a large dice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp ground cumin (to taste–you can add more or less)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander (to taste–you can add more or less)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (to taste–you can add more or less)
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place first group of ingredients (tomatoes through poblano pepper) in a large bowl, cover with olive oil (about 1/2 cup), salt and pepper.  Pour into a shallow pan and roast in the oven for 45-60 minutes; keep an eye on things so they don’t burn–if the garlic cooks too quickly and burns, it’ll turn bitter.
  2. Pour roasted ingredients into a blender (BlendTecs are great because everything fits!) and add the second group of ingredients.  Pulse until desired consistency–you can have it as smooth or as chunky as you like.  Add more or less water to help your consistency.

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