Thursday, June 6, 2013

Unfried Green Tomatoes with Fresh Tomato Gravy

I've only had green tomatoes a handful of times, so am still surprised by how tart and firm they are, in contrast to their ripe, red cousins. This recipe transforms the Southern classic into healthier fare, since the tomatoes are baked in the oven instead of fried. A fresh tomato gravy on the side means you'll get a double-tomato dose in one sitting.

For the green tomatoes:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Dash of sugar
  • 16 (1/2-inch thick) slices green tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup plain non-dairy milk
  • Cooking spray
For the gravy:
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cups finely chopped and peeled red tomato*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. To prepare the green tomatoes, combine the flour, cornmeal, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and sugar in a shallow dish.

2. Place the milk in a small bowl.  Dip the tomato slices in the milk, and dredge in the flour mixture. Lightly coat both sides of the tomato slices with cooking spray.

Note: To yield 16 tomato slices, you'll need to start with about 3 or 4 green tomatoes, depending how large they are.

3. Meanwhile, place a baking sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and immediately coat with cooking spray.  Place the tomato slices on the heated baking sheet, and return to the oven for 25 minutes, turning over at the 15 minute mark.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the gravy: melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and onion; cook for 4 minutes, until tender.

5. Add the red tomato; bring to a boil.  Cook for 10 minutes, until the liquid is almost all evaporated.  Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Spoon the gravy over the tomato slices to serve.

I recommend serving with a homey meal, like mashed potatoes and Gardein's chick'n sliders. 

*To peel the red tomatoes, score an X into the bottom of each tomato, and place in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water.  The peels will slip off easily. Finely chop and proceed with the recipe.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (4 tomato slices, about 1/3 cup gravy), Calories 142 

Tasting Notes:
I'm a novice when it comes to true fried green tomatoes, so I can't say how close these are to the real thing, but I do know that I loved the warm, soft green tomatoes, lightly sweet from baking, with a soft interior and crisp breaded exterior. The cornmeal mixture had a touch too much black pepper, so I'd decrease that, and increase the salt slightly. The tomato gravy had sweet, roasted flavor, but I decided I wasn't wild about the tomato/tomato combo; the best parts of the gravy were the tender mushrooms and onion, and the lightly buttery flavor, so I'd make this more of a traditional brown gravy or mushroom sauce next time.

Update: Again, I'm no expert, so I don't know whether fried green tomatoes are always meant to be served piping hot, but I actually enjoyed leftovers cold from the fridge even more - the flavors came through better than they did when fresh out of the oven.


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