To-MAY-to, To-MAH-to… however you choose to say it, now is the season to celebrate this marvelous fruit in all its glory.

Over the past week, my garden has erupted with an abundance of tomatoes in all shapes and sizes. While we anxiously wait for them to ripen, we have already begun to enjoy some varieties prematurely with one of my favorite summertime specialties: Italian Fried Green Tomatoes.

There are some varieties of tomatoes that are green when fully ripened, but for this dish you will need green tomatoes that are fully unripe, with no hints of red or orange. Any touch of color ripening will yield a sweet result rather than the signature tartness of a green tomato. I prefer Roma and beefsteak varieties, which have a firm texture and wonderful tang when picked in their immature state.

Unripe green tomatoes are essential for this recipe, and varieties like Roma and beefsteak have the ideal firmness and tart flavor. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Unripe green tomatoes are essential for this recipe, and varieties like Roma and beefsteak have the ideal firmness and tart flavor. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

If you don’t have access to fresh tomatoes in your own garden, pay a visit to our local farmers markets. If they don’t have any unripe tomatoes on display, oftentimes you can ask them to pick some for you to pick up on their next market day, and sometimes you can even find them in our local grocery stores.

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You can use any variety of unripe tomato, but my favorites are Roma and beefsteak. In their unripe state, Roma and beefsteak tomatoes have the perfect firmness to hold their shape when coated in breadcrumbs and fried, and they also have a wonderfully tart and tangy flavor.

A serrated knife is ideal for slicing the tomatoes into half-inch rounds, the ideal width for Fried Green Tomatoes. The serration allows the knife to easily cut through the flesh without bruising or crushing the fruit. I use a knife specifically designed for slicing tomatoes, and a bread knife would also work well.

A serrated knife is best for slicing the green tomatoes into thick, half-inch rounds. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
A serrated knife is best for slicing the green tomatoes into thick, half-inch rounds. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

To coat the tomato slices, I use a dredging station of flour, egg wash and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs that I enhance with additional seasoning including garlic and onion powders, dried oregano and grated Parmesan cheese. You can use fresh Parmesan cheese if preferred, but for simple dishes like this one I use my go-to grated Parmesan — Kraft.

The tomato slices are dredged in flour, egg wash and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs before frying. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
The tomato slices are dredged in flour, egg wash and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs before frying. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Once coated, the tomato slices are fried in hot oil until golden brown all around, which takes only two to three minutes per side. To test the oil for readiness, drag the edge of one tomato slice through the oil. If it sizzles vigorously, the oil is ready. I place the fried tomatoes on a sheet lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil and serve them immediately when finished.

You can serve my Italian Fried Green Tomatoes plain or with your favorite dipping sauce — ours is my Easy Tomato Sauce recipe, and remoulade or ranch dressing are also popular. For this occasion, we gobbled them up almost straight from the hot pan, no sauce required, and they were every bit as delicious. Happy tomato picking!

The breaded tomato slices are fried in hot oil until golden brown and crispy all over. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
The breaded tomato slices are fried in hot oil until golden brown and crispy all over. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Sarah’s Italian Fried Green Tomatoes

PRINT: Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 large beefsteak tomatoes or 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons milk

1 cup all-purpose flour

Canola or vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

To create the dredging station, place 3 shallow dishes or pie plates on your work surface. In 1 dish, use a whisk or fork to combine the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper.

In another dish, use a fork or whisk to beat the eggs with the milk until frothy. Place the flour in the third dish.

Dredge the tomato slices in the flour on both sides, shaking off any excess until lightly coated all around. Next, dredge the floured tomatoes in the egg wash on both sides, shaking lightly to let excess liquid flow off. Dredge each slice in the breadcrumbs and use your hands to ensure that the tomato is fully coated.

In a large pan, heat ¼ cup of oil over medium-high heat until hot and almost smoking. To test if the oil is ready, drag the edge of a coated tomato slice through the oil. If it sizzles vigorously, the oil is ready.

Place the coated tomato slices in the pan and cook until golden brown all around, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fried slices to a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels and repeat until done. Serve immediately.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.