Tomato Talk

It’s not easy being green

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

It’s safe to say have a thing for tomatoes. Every spring, I purchase way more starts than I think I’ll need at the Whatcom County Master Gardeners Plant Sale, cross my fingers when it comes to favorable conditions for growing the edible nightshade, and hope for the best.

Typically, by this time of the summer it takes a lot of work to keep up with the harvest of beefsteaks, romas, cherry tomatoes, valencias, stupice, brandywines and myriad other varieties we space throughout our backyard plots. But although I’ve been able to pluck a few of the smaller varieties here and there to add to garden-fresh salads and place on top of bagels with cream cheese, the baseball-sized orbs weighing down a number of the vines have been slow to ripen.

Last weekend, I was fed up with waiting for the big boys to redden, and decided I’d take matters into my own hands. Hearkening back to Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe—a book (and movie) that delved into big issues such as racism, homosexuality, family and aging, but also brought home how delicious green tomatoes could be—I knew I’d hit a solution.

Just in case the heat of the day had worked its magic, I waited for the sun to move beyond the enclosed vegetable garden before callously ripping four green specimens from their seemingly permanent home in a beleaguered tomato cage. “I’ll be back for the rest of you soon, so you better ripen up,” I scolded the remainders.

I’d chosen a recipe that was paired with a creamy horseradish sauce, so I made that first and stuck it in the fridge to chill. Southern purists use only tomato slices in a bit of flour with salt and pepper, but this how-to instead included an egg white and cornmeal for dipping purposes, and worked just fine.

I knew my dinner date would be hungry for more than tomatoes, so by the time I’d browned them and brought back out the zesty sauce, I had set out fried chicken left over from a family picnic, and also included a few garden greens. He licked his plate clean, and asked for more.

Other pairings that would work well with fried green tomatoes include fish, BLTs, crab cakes, poached eggs, creamy pastas, omelets, macaroni and cheese, and beyond. I hope I don’t have to resort to making all of these dishes before our tomatoes ripen, but I will if I have to.


Fried Green Tomatoes with Creamy Horseradish Sauce


For sauce

1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon horseradish
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For tomatoes

3 to 4 green tomatoes
1 large egg white
1 cup white corn meal
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon pepper


Combine all sauce ingredients in small bowl; mix well. Cover and refrigerate.

Slice tomatoes about 3/8-inch thick. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Beat egg white with fork in shallow dish. Place cornmeal on plate or in separate shallow dish.

Melt two tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Dip tomatoes in egg mixture, then in cornmeal to coat. Add tomato slices to skillet in a single layer.

Cook until golden brown; turn and cook until browned on other side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tomato slices, adding butter to the skillet as needed. Serve warm with horseradish sauce on the side.

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