Fried Ripe Tomatoes (Gluten-free or not)

IMG_4534Fried Ripe Tomatoes are a cousin to classic fried green tomatoes.  Green tomatoes fry up well because they are still a bit hard.  You can dredge them in batter or cornmeal, throw them into hot oil and they do not fall apart.  Fried Green tomatoes are often served with remoulade or some sort or spicy mayonnaise.  I love fried green tomatoes, but I do not do serious frying at home.   I am always thrilled when I find a restaurant that will make them gluten-free for me.  This happened recently at The Foothill’s Milling Company in Maryville, Tennessee.  Yay!  Their fried green tomatoes are served with a very delicious pepper tomato pepper chutney and a basil aioli and it the dish was really, really good.

At home, I make fried ripe tomatoes.   Ripe tomatoes are so delicious already that they do not require lots of batter or oil.  They don’t even need a zingy sauce. They do, however, require a bit of tenderness, since ripe tomatoes are soft and a bit delicate  once they are cooked.

I like to eat Fried Ripe Tomatoes with eggs and swiss chard for breakfast.  When life is good, there is bacon involved too.  My husband really likes it when some grits, show up in this picture as well.  I like to fry up one whole tomato per person, because it feels unfair to have to share something so tasty.

I cannot remember where I got this recipe, but I have made these since college, so we can assume that it was from some classic vegetarian cookbook or another.  I hesitate to call even call it a recipe, since I certainly don’t measure anything and vary the ingredients with wild abandon.  Experiment!

IMG_4550I bought these amazing looking Canistrino Italian heirloom tomatoes at the Union Square Green Market.  I am very pleased with how they photographed, but I have to say that a plain old tomato without the all the lovely negative space is better for this recipe.  The basic concept is that the juice from the very ripe tomato, catches all of the tasty herbs and spices that you put in the flour mixture, and then forms a delicious crisp coating when you fry it in a bit of oil.  So, you really want a tomato that is full of seeds and juice.  That said, these were, hands down, the sweetest tasting tomatoes I have ever eaten.  If you see them, buy a large quantity of them and make this Moroccan Tomato Jam recipe.  You won’t be sorry.

I use the flour mixture from Annalise Robert’s excellent cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking Classics.  It is basically 1 part tapioca flour, 2 parts potato starch and 6 parts brown rice flour.  I make big batches of this mixture so that I can make a tart or pie crust whenever I want.  However, if you threw together 1 Tablespoon of tapioca flour, 2 tablespoons of potato starch and 1/3 cup of brown rice flour you would be in good shape.  I have also used the Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour mix from The Art of Gluten Free Baking (follow the link for that recipe).  I make big batches of that one for biscuits and dumplings.  Really though, I think that any gluten-free flour mix that uses rice flour or cornmeal combined with starches such as potato, corn or tapioca would work fine.  I would not recommend any flour mix that uses bean flours, sorghum, buckwheat, teff, quinoa or amaranth.  These all have a strong flavour that would not work here.  Also rice flour and cornmeal have a bit of grit in their texture that crisps up in a pleasing way!

IMG_4557FRIED RIPE TOMATOES (Gluten-free or not)

  • Olive oil
  • a small handful of flour (see the note above about gluten-free flours)
  • a generous amount of ground black pepper
  • a generous amount of good salt (I like maldone)
  • Any or all of these dry herbs-  Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Dill, Rosemary, Margoram
  • dry Tarragon (this is the only crucial herb in my humble opinion)
  • A small clove of garlic, minced (I usually skip this because sometimes the garlic burns and I hate the taste of burned garlic)
  • Red pepper flakes or paprika (I have never tried this, but it would be good!)
  • 1 tomato large ripe tomato per person
  1. If you cook on a cast iron skillet (I do) start a thin layer of olive oil heating over medium high heat.  If your pan is thinner you can start the oil heating after you have made your flour and herb mixture.
  2. On a large plate, combine your flour, salt, pepper and herbs.  Taste it to make sure it is good and adjust the seasonings as needed.
  3. Slice a round off of your tomato and drop it directly into the flour mixture before you loose any juice or seeds.  Dredge it on both sides and gently tap the extra flour off.  Drop the dredged tomato slice into the hot oil and repeat the process with the next slice of tomato.
  4.  I usually do two tomatoes at a time in a very large skillet, and by the time I get all of the slices in the pan the pan, the first ones are ready to be flipped and fried on the other side.  If any of the slices look like the flour did not get any oil, add a bit more to the pan.
  5. Each slice should be crispy and golden brown on both sides.  If any of them look soggy or pale, gently flip them over and give them more time.
  6. They will be soft and juicy so use some care when you transfer them out of the pan and onto the plate.  I find a thin, flat, metal cooking spatula to be the best tool for this.  Serve them hot with poached eggs, swiss chard, bacon and grits.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. These sound yummy. I haven’t tried a gluten free batter yet (dont eat much fried food cos I hate cleaning) I reckon I will give these a go. Thanks for mentioning the tomato jam. Did you try it yet?

  2. These sound amazing!!! I’ve made baked-fried green tomatoes before, but I’ve never thought about frying ripe red tomatoes… and with a poached egg on top?! YUM.

    Also, I think those types of Italian heirloom tomatoes make for some of the prettiest tomato slices there are.

    1. I know! Those tomatoes are the super models of the food blog world!

  3. Claire says:

    these are quite possibly the prettiest tomatoes i’ve ever seen

    1. I know! I can’t wait for these tomatoes (or any good tomatoes really) to return. It’s been a long winter. I’m ready for tomatoes…even ugly ones!

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