What's So Special About Fried Green Tomatoes?

Fried green tomatoes are often thought of as a Southern classic, but that’s actually a Hollywood myth says food writer Robert Moss. In an article for Serious Eats, he explains that one ’90s movie “made fried green tomatoes an overnight Southern culinary star.” The film he is referring to is, of course, the 1991 classic Fried Green Tomatoes. The hit movie, set in Alabama, explores Southern friendships, resilience, and empowerment, and it also touches on the nostalgic power of taste. “What I wouldn’t give for a plate of fried green tomatoes,” says one of the movie’s protagonists Ninny Threadgoode, played by Jessica Tandy, as she reminisces on the food of her youth.

But in reality, in the early 20th century, while fried green tomatoes were eaten in the South, they were not really a staple. They were, however, eaten frequently in the North as a way to use up tomatoes on the vine before the first frost. Regardless of their roots, however, the fact remains that fried green tomatoes are now an adopted Southern classic. People love them. But what’s really so special about fried green tomatoes anyway? Let’s dive in. 

What is so special about fried green tomatoes?

For many people in both the North and the South, fried green tomatoes evoke a sense of nostalgia and comfort. They’re also loved for their taste. Green tomatoes are firmer and more tart than their ripe counterparts, and when battered and fried, they develop a crispy, golden-brown crust while still maintaining a slightly tangy and juicy interior.

“I know that most things that taste good taste even better when battered and deep-fried,” Smithsonian contributor Lisa Bramen writes of her first experience trying fried green tomatoes. “But something about this dish was extraordinary—the combination of firm-fleshed tomato with crunchy cornmeal coating, the slight tartness of the unripe fruit balancing the oiliness of the exterior.”

Fried green tomatoesConnoisseurus Veg

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How to make vegan fried green tomatoes

There’s no doubt that when cooked well, fried green tomatoes are a crowd-pleasing hit. The good news is they’re easy to make vegan, too. This recipe from Connoisseurus Veg, for example, batters the tomatoes in a mix made from ingredients like almond milk, ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, and kala namak (black salt), before shallow frying them in a skillet. The result is “deliciously addictive,” according to the blog.

This recipe from Vegan With Curves is similar but uses a homemade Cajun seasoning mix for extra flavor and breadcrumbs for extra crunch. Plus the green tomatoes are air-fried, rather than deep- or shallow-fried. This recipe from Yup, It’s Vegan takes the recipe one step further by loading the fried green tomatoes into a vegan BLT.

Vegan BLT fried green tomatoesYup, It’s Vegan

What are the best dishes to serve with fried green tomatoes?

While delicious, a vegan BLT isn’t the only way to serve fried green tomatoes. Below, we’ve compiled just a few of our favorite dishes that we think would taste delectable with fried green tomatoes on the side.

VegNews.lobstermacandcheeseAlex Shytsman

1Vegan Cashew Mac and Cheese With Lobster Mushrooms

With its rich cashew sauce and savory mushrooms, this ultra-creamy mac and cheese would go beautifully with crispy, tangy fried green tomatoes. For an extra touch, you could even drizzle a bit of cooling vegan aioli or spicy hot sauce over the tomatoes (or both!).
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2 Spiced Cauliflower With Beans, Slaw, and Vegan Ranch

Drizzle some of the cashew ranch from this tasty recipe over fried green tomatoes, too, for an ultra-flavorful, nourishing meal. The crispy, tangy fried green tomatoes will provide the perfect textural contrast to the spiced cauliflower and creamy beans.
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VegNews.PortobelloBenedictThe Ravens

3 Easy, 4-Step Vegan Portabello Benedict

For a delicious brunch, add some fried green tomatoes to this already super-tasty vegan portobello benedict recipe. The tomatoes will add a nice textural contrast and a burst of flavor that complements the dish perfectly.
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VegNews.CrabCakesLinda Soper-Kolton and Sara Boan

4 Vegan Jackfruit Crab Cakes With Remoulade Sauce

Jackfruit crab cakes and fried green tomatoes are a crispy match made in heaven, especially when they’re paired with creamy remoulade sauce. It’s an elegant, flavorful dish, perfect for your next dinner party with friends.
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VegNews.TzatzikiSauce.TimAtkinsTim Atkins

5 Classic Vegan Tzatziki Sauce

If you want something simple, serve fried green tomatoes with this Mediterranean dip as an accompaniment. Tzatziki is delicious, creamy, and versatile, and will provide the right amount of moisture and flavor to the tomatoes without overwhelming them.
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