Sufi’s lunch: Fried green tomatoes

Hello, faithful fans. I’m trying out a new feature showcasing what I’m feeding my 18-month-old son Sufi. He’s finally at an age where he can eat most things and meals consist of something more than a bite or two. Sometimes, feeding him can be quite a chore. We don’t keep packaged baby food in the house, but the temptation to run to the store and get some as a last-minute lunch is always there. Other days, I look around the kitchen, spot a few ingredients and get to work. (Working from home has its perks, but I’m a big proponent of simple cooking, especially in summer, and this is something that could easily be done at the end of a work day as prep for the next.)

Today it was green tomatoes and stale bread. The tomatoes were rejects from my cousin’s garden, tomatoes that failed to ripened, and the bread hardened a month ago. Not exactly the stuff of gourmet food, right? But in a few simple steps, lunch was ready to greet my napping toddler when he awoke. Detailed recipe after the jump.

Can I just say something about breadcrumbs? You know, the ones you get from the store? The ones with 50 ingredients? WHY? Bread. Crumbs. The crumbs of bread. So simple, so easy. Make them at home and spare your body needless additives. When I buy bread, I always get an extra baguette I have no intention of eating. I’ll leave it in the paper bag (which is breathable, unlike a plastic one — the difference between dry bread and moldy one), and in a few weeks it’ll be dry as a bone and ready to process. Do try it!

Fried green tomatoes with sriracha mayo
Note: I served it to Sufi with his favorite “dip,” ketchup, and reserved the mayo for the adults. Panko breadcrumbs work well here if you don’t have stale bread or don’t want to make your own breadcrumbs.

First, cut a stale baguette or other bread that has completely hardened and place it in a good-quality food processor. Let it work for a minute or so until most of the bread is finely crumbled. Pick out any big chunks that remain and store your homemade breadcrumbs in an airtight container. EASY PEASY!

Create your workstation: Lay out three bowls, one with 1/2 cup of AP flour, one with an egg whisked with a tablespoon or so of water, and one with a cup or so bread crumbs. To the bread crumbs, add 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper and 1 tsp. of salt.

Cut off the tops and bottoms of 6 medium-sized green tomatoes. Slice them into 1/2″ rounds, yielding about 3-4 slices per tomato, depending on its size. Try to keep the thickness even, which will ensure they all cook evenly.

Lay out a baking sheet, and get to work: Using your left hand (the dry hand), dip the tomato in the flour and drop it in the egg wash. Using your right hand (wet hand), flip it around to moisten it and drop it in the bread crumbs. Left hand tosses the crumbs, gives the slice a shake, and lays it on the baking sheet. Repeat until done, and it should go without saying that it doesn’t really matter which hand is the wet or dry hand. Feel free to switch them (I am, after all, a lefty trying to guide a world full of righties.)

Once all your slices are battered, you’re ready to fry. Fill a skillet with oil so that it is about 1/4″ in depth. Heat on medium heat for about 10 minutes or so, until the tip of a wooden spoon bubbles quickly in the oil. (That’s a nice little test to make sure the oil is hot before you fry. If not, you’ll have limp food.)

Place the tomatoes in the oil, cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, and remove to a plate covered with a paper towel. Season with a sprinkle of salt, preferably some good stuff like Maldon’s flake salt.

Let it cool a little before feeding it to any young ones!

Sriracha mayo
For any adult eaters, whip up an easy dip of sriracha mayo. Mix about 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1-3 tsp. of sriracha, depending on your spice tolerance, 2 tbsp. condensed milk and 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar to round out the flavor. I like to stir it all up and store it in a squeeze bottle for easy use anytime.

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