It’s a crazy thing to watch your special tomato plants slowly die with quantities of beautiful green fruit still hanging there. The drooping leaves turn yellow preparing for winter – the fruit hangs lower. Usually, most of those tomatoes won’t have time to ripen before it is time to chop out the vines.
There are two great times in the season for green tomatoes: first, in July when you have a bumper crop and want to take advantage of the unique flavor of an unripe tomato. The second is late fall, just before a killing frost. Years past, I let my small green tomatoes fall victim to frost and become garden compost, not realizing the many uses for this green fruit.
Now every autumn, usually right before hard frost, I determine the unripe tomatoes in the garden will get a chance to fulfill their destiny, and so I gather them all.
Green tomatoes, when roasted, are not especially beautiful. Are you ready for that truth? While still in the roasting pan they look a bit like an attempt at camouflage. However, they are remarkably tasty – mouthwatering tasty. You wonder why no one ever told you about this before.
A Delicious Second Chance
This tasty seasonal favorite is often attributed to Southern country cooking and made famous by a movie. Savory fried or roasted green tomatoes are a great starter or side dish served with other Southern favorites like fried chicken, ribs or pot roast and mashed potatoes.
Having a mother from Jackson, Mississippi, gave me a love for down-home Southern cooking.
A sprinkle of corn meal or Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil transform tomatoes into the perfect side dish. Or try sandwiching them between slices of your favorite whole-wheat crusty bread.
Oven-Roasted Green Tomatoes:
This delicious side-dish recipe is as easy as rinsing and cutting a tomato in half.
Use only unblemished tomatoes. That should be pretty easy, as unripe, green tomatoes are usually flawless. Cut in half, they are a beautiful sight, displaying their hidden inner intricacy. If your tomatoes are too ripe, they will be too wet or become mushy.
- Green or just pink unripe tomatoes to fill your baking dish(es)
- Olive oil, avocado oil or melted coconut oil for drizzling
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Optional: a light sprinkling of ground cayenne pepper, to taste
- Optional: a light dusting of fresh or dried herbs such a rosemary, thyme, oregano or parsley
- Optional: medium ground cornmeal (non-GMO organic) or bread crumbs for topping
- Optional: add your favorite shredded cheese at the end
Can you tell there are no exact rules for this?
- Quarter large tomatoes. Halve smaller tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. You don’t need to worry about removing the seeds.
- Place tomatoes cut-side up in a single layer in a glass casserole dish — a rimmed dish is important as there will be some liquid.
- Drizzle choice of oil liberally over the top of the tomatoes, then add salt and pepper and gently toss to coat. I like my tomatoes a little on the spicy side, so I also add a few dashes of ground cayenne to mine.
- Sprinkle on cornmeal or bread crumbs.
- Place your tomatoes in a pre-heated 250 degree oven. Let your tomatoes roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until they are translucent and soft. (Note: there are recommendations for everything from 250 to 400 degrees for roasting, but I like 250 best because it results in a nice, slow, gentle roasting and very tender, sweet-roasted green tomatoes.)
- Cheese lovers: once roasted and tender, sprinkle on your favorite shredded cheese and replace into the oven for the last few minutes.
You could eat roasted green tomatoes spread on a piece of warm crusty bread. You could use them to top a pizza or as a really unique topping to a burger (roasted green tomatoes and sharp cheddar or provolone cheese and Thousand Island dressing— amazing!)
Have you ever had roasted or fried green tomatoes?
“They also do well when baked, providing a bit of moisture without collapsing into mush, and their firm texture and sour-sweet flavor allows you to swap them for tart green apples in recipes from cakes to pies. Their bright flavor also works well in sauces, and in the beloved fried green tomatoes, it provides a juicy counterpoint to all that crispy coating.” ~Deena Prichep, NPR, Cookbooks and Recipes
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