If the words “fried green tomatoes” transport you to the Whistle Stop Cafe along with Idgie Threadgood and Ruth Jamison, that’s just fine. If those same words also transport you to your grandma’s kitchen for a long-ago, late-summer Sunday supper that’s even better–you probably know all about putting fresh-picked mint leaves in your sweet tea and how to choose a watermelon by its pale yellow underbelly rather than just by thumping it.
But I digress. Back to fried green tomatoes. I like ’em. I like to fry ’em and eat ’em hot out of the pan. And I really like to fry ’em and turn them into Fried Green Tomato Casserole–a “recipe” I came up with a long time ago and can’t ever seem to get enough of, even though I haven’t made it in a while. Here are the basics:
4-5 firm green tomatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 cup cornmeal (not cornmeal mix)
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup finely ground walnuts (optional)
1 cup milk
Salt & pepper to taste (and any other seasonings you like–I used Cavender’s Greek Seasoning this time)
Enough oil for frying
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 jar of your favorite prepared spaghetti sauce (or make your own)
1 can Italian-seasoned tomatoes
1 large onion, rough chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
Oil for sauteeing
Plenty of Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded or however you like it
Mix cornmeal, flour, and walnuts together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place each slice of tomato in milk, then transfer to flour mixture to coat. (Get enough slices done to fill your first skillet; you can do the others as you go.) Heat oil in a skillet–should be hot but not smoking–and add slices of green tomato. Fry until golden brown; about 3-4 minutes per side. Be careful when you turn them as the flour mixture comes off easily. Transfer to a paper-towel covered cooling rack. Fry all tomatoes, but don’t eat them all just yet!
Heat spaghetti sauce and Italian-style tomatoes in a large pot. Sautee onion and garlic until translucent and add to spaghetti sauce. (If you have any extra ground walnuts, stir them into the sauce. Adds rich-and-yummy layer). Combine pasta and sauce in a 13 x 9 baking pan. Arrange fried green tomatoes over the top. Sprinkle (heavily!) with parmesan cheese. Bake until cheese melts or you can’t wait any longer.
With any luck, you’ll have made enough FGT casserole to provide you with leftovers for another meal. Lean Cuisine, anyone? Or fried green tomatoes, made with love, by hand, in a skillet that’s older than I am?
Yeah–I’ll have what she’s having!