Crispy, crunchy on the outside, tender and full of fresh, tangy flavor on the inside… Mexican Fried Green Tomatoes are a twist on the classic, and a perfect side dish for your healthy Mexican mains!
Did I suffer a bump on the head? I may seem to have gotten my cuisines and dishes mixed up… Last week’s Healthy Mexican Shrimp and Grits may have had you scratching your head. Shrimp and grits is a classic Southern dish, not Mexican! 😀 These Mexican Fried Green Tomatoes are a companion recipe to that one. So, think outside “the box.” Imagine crispy cornmeal and buttermilk breaded sliced green tomatoes with a hint of cumin and chipotle powder and garnished with chopped cilantro. It’s got to be good, right? They’re certainly a perfect side dish with my Healthy Mexican Shrimp and Grits. Be forewarned: I don’t want to hear “but it’s not authentic!” The world is a better place when cooks play with their food…
You never see green tomatoes in your market, and you don’t have a garden? No worries. You know those picked-way-too-early-for-transport tomatoes you see piled high in your market year ’round? You know… the ones that don’t taste at all like a tomato when you slice them on your salad? A firm, unripened slicing tomato will work just fine. This breading makes up for the lack of flavor in a typical grocery store tomato.
Lest you’re having heart palpitations at the thought of a healthy blogger/home cook suggesting you fry your tomatoes, just relax. Food that is properly fried doesn’t have to be on your forbidden foods list. The food doesn’t absorb much of the oil if it is fried at the correct temperature. Fried food can have a place (in moderation) in a healthy diet. See Healthy Frying Basics from Cooking Light Magazine – one of my “go to” resources for over 30 years! I have been using refined coconut oil for frying, but some people object to the flavor. I find it to be pretty neutral. Canola or peanut oil are good choices. You need a high “smoke point” to fry at temperatures high enough to keep the food from absorbing the fat.
Mis en place! Prepare your ingredients! Slice the tomatoes, combine the breading ingredients, whisk the buttermilk and egg mixture together. Get a platter ready with paper toweling (drain those beautifully fried tomatoes!), have a slotted spoon ready, and then – only then – heat your oil. This process goes quickly, and you don’t want to burn your breading while you’re hunting for your slotted spoon! 🙂 Try to keep the oil between 360 and 375 degrees. Fried green tomatoes “experts” recommend 1/4″ to 1/2″ of oil. I usually get by with less (as you can see in the photo).
You will dunk each tomato slice in the buttermilk/egg mixture first, making sure each side is well-coated. Next, press each side into the breading. Gently lower them into the hot oil. Fry on each side, then drain on paper toweling. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.
If you’ve planned to make Mexican Fried Green Tomatoes with my Healthy Mexican Shrimp and Grits, you will want to get everything ready for the tomatoes, prepare the grits, and the chorizo mixture, add the shrimp, fry the tomatoes, and serve promptly. The grits are very forgiving and can be covered and kept warm. However, rubbery, over-cooked shrimp, and soggy fried tomatoes are not the best. Preparation is key to awesome results!
What are your thoughts on messing with a classic? I’ve had a fair amount of discussion with my food blogging friends on this topic lately. Some people find it appalling… As a creative type, I find myself constantly pushing the envelope. My feedback is typically positive, but every once in a while, I hear “that’s not authentic.” I am not looking to provide a recipe for abuela’s albondigas. Rather, I want to encourage my readers to take flavor profiles to create exciting and healthy dishes, and perhaps to rely less on recipes and cookbooks. I would love to hear your thought… Best,
Recommended Kitchen and Pantry Items:
- Digital Cooking Thermometer – oil temperature is critical to healthy fried food!
- 12″ Cast Iron Skillet – perfect for your fried green tomatoes.
- Nylon Slotted Spoon – to gently lift the tomatoes out of the oil.
Disclaimer: If you purchase from Amazon through my website, I may receive a small compensation. This helps to offset the costs of my blog. 🙂
- 2 large slicing tomatoes, (see notes)
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder, (see notes)
- 1/2 -1 teaspoon sea salt
- several grinds black pepper
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- oil, (see notes)
- Slice the tomatoes. Combine the breading ingredients (cornmeal through pepper) thoroughly in a medium-sized bowl. In a second prep bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg until smooth.
- Get a platter ready with paper toweling. Have a slotted spoon ready. Pour enough oil into a skillet to cover the pan. 1/4" is plenty; I use less. Heat oil to about 375 degrees.
- Dip each tomato slice in the buttermilk/egg mixture first, making sure each side is well-coated. Next, press each side into the breading. Gently lower them into the hot oil.
- Fry on each side, then drain on paper toweling. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. Enjoy!
As I mentioned in the post, you can substitute firm red tomatoes if you can't get green.
Chipotle chile powder is hot. You can add more or less to your desired heat level, omit entirely, or substitute smoked paprika. Smoked paprika provides the smokiness without the heat.
Smoke point and temperature are critical with healthy frying. You need to use an oil with a high smoke point. Refer to the post - I have included a link with a chart. Try to keep the oil between 360 and 375 degrees for crispy, non-greasy fried tomatoes. I love refined coconut oil. Peanut and canola are good choices. The smoke point on olive oil is too low for frying.
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal): 150 calories; 4 g protein; 23 g carbohydrates; fat is anyone's guess according to frying temperature and type of fat used.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 150