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Fried Red Tomatoes

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Fried red tomatoes are a delicious twist on the classic Southern dish, fried green tomatoes. With their crispy coating and juicy interior, these tomatoes make a perfect appetizer, side dish, or snack. Let’s dive into the step-by-step recipe to create these delightful fried red tomatoes.

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Ingredients

  • 4 large ripe red tomatoes, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons salt, more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, more for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional for a hint of spice)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Tomatoes

  1. Slice Tomatoes:
    • Wash and slice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices. Lay the slices on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let them sit for 10 minutes to draw out excess moisture.

Step 2: Prepare the Coating

  1. Set Up Dredging Station:
    • Place the flour in a shallow dish.
    • Beat the eggs in another shallow dish.
    • In a third shallow dish, combine the cornmeal, panko breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons of salt, black pepper, and paprika (if using).

Step 3: Coat the Tomatoes

  1. Dredge in Flour:
    • Dredge each tomato slice in the flour, shaking off any excess.
  2. Dip in Egg:
    • Dip the floured tomato slices into the beaten eggs, ensuring they are fully coated.
  3. Coat in Cornmeal Mixture:
    • Finally, coat the tomato slices in the cornmeal and panko breadcrumb mixture, pressing gently to adhere.

Step 4: Fry the Tomatoes

  1. Heat Oil:
    • In a large skillet, heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot (about 350°F or 175°C).
  2. Fry Tomatoes:
    • Working in batches, carefully place the coated tomato slices in the hot oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy.
  3. Drain Excess Oil:
    • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fried tomatoes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper while still hot.

Step 5: Serve

  1. Plate and Serve:
    • Serve the fried red tomatoes hot with your favorite dipping sauce, such as ranch, aioli, or a spicy remoulade.

Cooking Notes and Tips

  • Tomato Selection: Choose firm, ripe red tomatoes for the best results. Overripe tomatoes may become too mushy when fried.
  • Oil Temperature: Ensure the oil is hot enough before frying to prevent the tomatoes from absorbing too much oil and becoming greasy.
  • Seasoning: Adjust the seasoning in the coating mixture to your taste. Add more paprika or even a dash of cayenne pepper for extra spice.

Variations

Spicy Fried Tomatoes

  • Add Heat:
    • Increase the paprika and add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the coating mixture for a spicier kick.

Cheesy Fried Tomatoes

  • Add Parmesan:
    • Mix 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese into the cornmeal and panko breadcrumb mixture for an extra cheesy flavor.

Gluten-Free Fried Tomatoes

  • Gluten-Free Ingredients:
    • Use gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs to make this dish gluten-free.

Serving Suggestions

With Dipping Sauce

  • Dipping Sauce:
    • Serve with ranch dressing, garlic aioli, or a spicy remoulade for dipping.

As a Side Dish

  • Side Dish:
    • Pair with grilled meats, fish, or a fresh green salad for a complete meal.

As a Snack

  • Snack:
    • Enjoy as a crispy snack on their own or with other fried vegetables like zucchini or eggplant.

FAQs

Q: Can I make these tomatoes ahead of time? A: Fried tomatoes are best served fresh, but you can prepare the coating mixture and slice the tomatoes ahead of time. Fry them just before serving for the best texture.

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Q: How do I store leftovers? A: Store any leftover fried tomatoes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the oven at 375°F (190°C) for 10-15 minutes to retain crispiness.

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Q: Can I use green tomatoes instead? A: Yes, you can use green tomatoes if you prefer a more traditional fried tomato dish.

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Q: What if I don’t have panko breadcrumbs? A: You can substitute regular breadcrumbs or crushed crackers for panko breadcrumbs.

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Q: Can I bake these tomatoes instead of frying? A: Yes, you can bake the coated tomatoes on a baking sheet at 425°F (220°C) for about 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden and crispy.

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Fried red tomatoes are a crispy, flavorful delight that’s perfect for any occasion. With their golden, crunchy exterior and juicy interior, these tomatoes are sure to be a hit with family and friends. Enjoy making and sharing this delicious recipe!