Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oven Fried Green Tomatoes with Turkey Bacon

The classic southern side dish of fried green tomatoes was the topic of a recent conversation I had on Facebook. (Conversation, in this case, refers to a succession of “comments” written in response to a “status update.”) I don’t normally fry, and so I mentioned the possibility of making Oven Fried Green Tomatoes as a healthier alternative. This seemed to catch the interest of the person I was conversing with, and got me thinking about it seriously.

Fast forward a few weeks to pulling whatever I could from my garden in preparation for Hurricane Irene. My forced bounty included some nice-looking green Jersey beefsteak tomatoes, which I could either pickle (a staple of any good New York City kosher deli) or oven fry. I opted for oven-frying as described below. (If you would like to pickle your green tomatoes, click here for an easy refrigerator pickling method. Use the garlic brine.)

Regular readers of this space have seen oven-frying before (Country Oven Fried Steak; Baked Beer Batter Onion Rings). All follow the same basic structure: dip the food to be oven-fried in an appropriate liquid (e.g. milk, buttermilk, eggs), dredge in breading, spray with cooking spray or oil, and bake until crisp. If my southern friends let me get away with oven-frying Country Fried Steak, one of the south’s signature dishes, I could probably also get away with this one too.

This recipe uses low-fat buttermilk and crushed cornflakes; both are intended to maintain at least some southern authenticity. (Besides, cooking with corn flakes is fun.) Several toppings are commonly used; for simplicity, I’ve used fat free ranch dressing here.

This recipe makes 4-6 side dish size servings.

Cut 4 large green tomatoes into ¼” thick slices. Sprinkle the slices with salt and set into a colander for 30 minutes while the salt drains water from the sliced tomatoes. (Credit for this very clever trick goes to Paula Deen.)

While the tomatoes are draining, cook 2 or 3 slices of turkey bacon, cut it into small pieces, and set aside. While the bacon is cooking, prepare the breading mixture by combing 2 cups crushed corn flakes; 1 tablespoon of garlic powder; 1 teaspoon kosher salt; ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper; and ½ teaspoon paprika.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare the “fry station” as follows:
  • Put 1-1/2 cups of low fat buttermilk into a bowl
  • Next to the buttermilk, put a bowl or plastic storage bag with the breading mixture.
Working one slice at a time, dip each tomato slice into the buttermilk, then into the breading mixture. If the tomato slice is well coated, place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or other non-stick surface. If the tomato slice is not well-coated, spray it with cooking spray and dredge it again in the breading mixture. Repeat a third time if necessary. After the slice is well-coated, place it on the lined baking sheet.

Apply cooking spray to the top side of each slice. Bake the tomatoes for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over, spray the other side of each slice, and bake until golden and tender, about 8-10 minutes more.

To serve, divide the slices into six servings, sprinkle bacon pieces on top, and top with ranch dressing.

If you’d like a cookbook-style, notebook-ready copy of this recipe, just let me know and I’ll send it along. (Be sure to include your e-mail address.)

See you next week with more easy, reduced-fat recipes! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. mmmmm, I love fried green tomatoes. Sooooo good!!!! I totally miss them and will have to try this so very soon!!! How did the monkey bread come out? Did you make it?

    Come visit me:

  2. Thanks, Tawnya! I have not tried monkey bread yet, but it sounds great and is definitely on the list of projects to do sooner rather than later. I am also looking forward to visiting your blog; you always have good things going on!