These Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches are a lot of fun. They are topped with pan-fried cotija cheese, tomatillo salsa, and cilantro micro greens to make a delicious and filling vegetarian sandwich. Don’t be scared away by the length of the recipe. There are lots of different components to the sandwiches, but each part is very easy and fast. Jump to Recipe
I came up with the recipe in a flurry of creative energy. I was really struggling with planning what to post for April. For those of you who aren’t frequent visitors, March was all about re-creating my favorite Japanese foods, and I really enjoyed the whole process. I liked having an entire month planned out and I liked having a theme. It was much easier to do everything blogging requires and also (most importantly) the food was awesome.
I set out to do the same thing for April but it was much harder. I had too much inspiration and stimulation. I finally closed my magazines and cookbooks, shut down my computer (okay I simply closed it), and went to the Nugget Market (I swear I might as well live there).
I just started grabbing food that jumped out at me: a pomelo, a couple of ataulfos mangos, some not very ripe heirloom tomatoes, tomatillos, fresh strawberries, etc. When I got home, I laid everything out on the kitchen counter and grouped them into possible recipe creations. I tried to come up with recipes that would be great on picnics but I couldn’t resist the idea of these Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches.
Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches
These Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches aren’t picnic food, but they are perfect for spring and eating out on your porch. But honestly, the batter is nice and thick and if your tomatoes are hard and unripe enough, you might be able to pull them off the next day (like fried chicken leftovers). But I had no leftovers so I don’t know that for a fact.
It feels weird saying “unripe” like it’s a good thing, but in the case of fried tomatoes, it is. Green tomatoes are any kind of tomato that isn’t ripe yet. They are excellent for frying because they are harder and don’t have as much moisture. The problem is grocery stores never purposefully sell green tomatoes, at least not in California. But when I saw and felt the heirloom tomatoes I knew I found the perfect substitute.
I love how all the different colored heirlooms actually taste a little different. They all have a kind of fresh lemon/lime zing to them but each has it’s own flavor profile. I went with the green ones because the zing is strongest in them. I also really wanted to be able to use the word green: Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches has such a better ring to it and is instantly recognizable to people.
I’ve been seeing a lot of fried halloumi across social media lately and I wanted to do that, but alas, none could be found. Any hard cheese with a high melting point can be used, so I went with cotija. And honestly it fit with the whole tomato, tomatillo salsa, diced avocado, and cilantro accouterments better anyways.
I hate it when I waste food. And a lot of waste comes from cutting fruits and veggies a certain way. When you slice the heirloom tomatoes, a lot goes to waste trying to get thick and equally sized slices.
Instead of throwing those pieces out, I put them in a food processor and pulsed them a couple of times to get them diced nicely. I then added some good quality olive oil, lemon juice, and some salt to make a Heirloom Tomato Dressing.
I thought a tomatillo salsa would also make a good topping option, enhancing the lime zing in the heirloom tomatoes. And of course you can’t forget avocados and cilantro. This time though, I tried cilantro micro greens. They have a stronger bite than regular cilantro but combined with the other flavors, you don’t notice at all.
Use any kind of bread you want. I toasted a sourdough slice with olive oil and rubbed garlic for an open faced sandwich but my parents tried theirs on hamburger buns.
Frying still kind of scares me but I’m getting better at it. A lot of people use precise temperature measurements but I just use the wooden spoon test. Heat your oil in a frying pan on high heat. To test if the oil is ready, touch a wooden spoon to the surface. If bubbles rise up, the oil is hot enough to begin frying. Sometimes you have to lower the temperature because it fries too fast. I just keep a close eye on what I’m frying and judge based on the color rather than cooking time.
Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches
Fried Heirloom Tomatos
- 1 inch medium-large green heirloom tomato cut into 1/2 slices, make sure it is firm and not yet ripe
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- dash of salt
- dash of Tabasco sauce
- 1 cup panko
- high heat oil
Heriloom Tomato Dressing
- 1/2 cup leftover tomato pieces
- 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tomatillos
- 1 serrano pepper
- 2 tablespoons diced onion
- 1/4 cup cilantro or 1/4 cup cilantro micro greens stems and leaves
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 3 slices sourdough sandwich loaf rustic french bread, hamburger buns-whatever you want
- 1 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced in half horizontally
- 3/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese
- cilantro or micro greens
- diced avocado
Heirloom Tomato Dressing
Cut the tomato into 1/2 inch thick slices.
Take the leftover bits of tomato (about a 1/2 cup) and either dice them or put them in a food processor and pulse a couple of times until finely diced. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil (I used Meyer Lemon infused olive oil), a squeeze of lemon juice, and 1/4th teaspoon salt. Add the diced tomato and mix well. Cover and put in the fridge.
Put the tomatillos and pepper in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes until tender.
Remove from heat with a slotted spoon and let cool. Once they are cool enough to touch, remove the husks from the tomatillos and cut the stem off the serrano pepper. De-seed the pepper if you want a mild salsa or leave it as is for some heat. Reserve a 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Put all the ingredients in a blender (except for the reserved liquid) and blend on high until smooth. Add the reserved liquid if it is too thick.
Pour into a bowl and taste. Add the sea salt and sugar as needed. Cover and refrigerate.
Thinly slice whatever bread you are using and brush good quality olive oil on each side. Broil each side until toasted. Rub one side with the split garlic. Set aside.
Heat frying pan over medium heat. When it is hot, place 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese in the middle and shape it into a 3 to 4 inch circle. Cook for 1 minute or until the cheese is bound together like a griddle and is golden on the bottom. Flip and cook on other side. Remove and place on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the cotija cheese.
Fried Heirloom Tomatoes
Mix the flour, cornstarch, ancho chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl.
Mix the buttermilk, egg, tabasco, and dash of salt in another shallow bowl.
Pour 1 cup of the Panko in a shallow bowl.
In a frying pan, heat an inch of oil on high heat. To test if the oil is ready, touch a wooden spoon to the surface. If bubbles rise up, the oil is hot enough to begin frying.
Dredge the tomatoes in the flour mixture, then the buttermilk mixture, and then the Panko. Place in the frying pan and fry on each side for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the tomatoes and set them on a cooling rack covered with a paper towel.
Assemble your sandwiches.
Recipe NotesThese recipe is easily adaptable to more people (6). Use 2 heirloom tomatoes instead of one and add 1 more cup of Panko.