The Myth Behind Fried Green Tomatoes

When I first moved to the south about twelve years ago, I saw fried green tomatoes on just about every menu here. While living in the north, I had not been very aware of this dish.  As a home cook the recipe interested me, so I searched for some recipes.  And, because I am a food historian fan, I looked into how this dish got started.

JC - Green Tomatoes

Well, I was very surprised, when I came across several articles, including one from the Smithsonian Magazine that said fried green tomatoes did not originate in the south. Instead, the recipe most likely originated with Jewish immigrants who settled in the Midwest.  It wasn’t until the novel and the movie by Fannie Flagg called, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, came out in the early 90’s that this dish became very popular. Folks associated the dish with the south because the cafe was located in Alabama.

My next step was to work on the traditional recipe for this dish. My family is not a fan of fried food, so I wanted to create a healthier version with the same great taste. Oven frying is the answer!

Oven Baked ”Fried” Green Tomatoes

JC - fried green tomatoes


2 to 3 medium-sized green tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Cajun spice
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, beaten


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a cookie sheet.

Place the flour mixed with Cajun seasoning in one shallow dish.

Add the egg to a second dish. Add a tablespoon of water and mix well.

Place the panko crumbs, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a third shallow dish.

JC - making fried green tomatoes

Cut the tomatoes into ½ inch thick slices and pat dry with paper towels.

Sprinkle the tomato slices evenly with salt and pepper.

Dredge the tomato slices in the flour, then the egg and then in the panko mixture to coat evenly.

Place the breaded tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, turning the tomatoes over with a wide spatula after 10 minutes.

Serve with your favorite sauce or make the Cajun Remoulade Sauce below.


Lightened Cajun Remoulade Sauce


1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons light sour cream
2 teaspoons chopped capers
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt to taste skip if using ketchup and taste
Cayenne pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors blend.




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