Because I love them so, I’ve written a couple of love letters to fried green tomatoes over the years: the fried green tomato caprese “salad” I made without remorse, and fried green tomato BLTs, a longtime favorite. Green tomatoes are so good when fried, I think a lot of folks never try them other ways, like in a salsa or gazpacho. I really, really want to use them in recipes like that. I really do! But when I think of them fried, I just can’t resist.
It just so happens that fried green tomatoes work extremely well in a “parmesan,” or a casserole of breaded, fried something (usually eggplant or chicken) layered with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. The tomatoes are a little tangy, so they add a lot of character to the dish, but they’re also a lot easier to fry than eggplant, which always soaks up so much oil. The tomatoes stand up to frying and still soften without a lot of oil, so you actually end up with something quite a bit lighter here than eggplant parmesan. Which is total lagniappe, if you ask me.
If you use real-deal Parmigiano-Reggiano, you will be so pleased with yourself. Really! I like this on spaghetti, but you can serve it pastaless, or over rice, or potatoes, or as an awesome po-boy filling. Really.
- 3 large, firm green tomatoes, cored and sliced ½" thick
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 cups Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups good marinara sauce (I use Newman's Own)
- 6 thin slices mozzarella or provolone cheese (or 2 cups grated)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- cooked spaghetti or other pasta, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Mix the egg and milk in a shallow dish and set aside; combine breadcrumbs, flour, and ½ cup Parmesan in another shallow dish.
- Melt the butter and oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the tomato slices first in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing to help it adhere. Add the dredged tomatoes to the skillet (I do this in two batches, to fit) and cook on each side for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender but still firm. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- To assemble: spread one cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of an 8"-square baking dish. Top with ⅓ of the tomatoes and ⅓ of the mozzarella. Repeat the same layer twice more. Sprinkle the ¼ cup Parmesan on top of the last layer of mozzarella.
- Cover and bake for 15 minutes; remove cover and bake another 5 to 10 minutes, until the top gets browny and bubbly.
- Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving. It's hot!