A spicy way to use end-of-season tomatoes
Throughout much of the US, we backyard veggie gardeners are mourning the end of growing season—and remembering the fresh, ripe tomatoes of summer.
We’re also faced with a culinary dilemma: What to do with all those green tomatoes that are still on the vines? They won’t have time to ripen, but we need to pick them before the first frost.
Green tomatoes may not be as alluring as their ripe alter egos, but they have tart, bright flavor. Which makes them exquisite when combined with spicy curry.
And cooking them takes just a few minutes. So you can have curry in a hurry.
Recipe: Curried Green Tomatoes
Green tomatoes of any size work well in this recipe, but I prefer the smaller ones. I reserve the big ones for Fried Green Tomatoes (a recipe I owe you).
I adapted this recipe from one I found in our old, tattered copy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The recipe calls for commercial curry powder (I like a Madras type best, but any will do). Although I often mix my own curry powders or pastes, the commercial version works extremely well in this dish, so that’s what I recommend.
Preparation time for this recipe is about 5 minutes or so. Total cooking time, maybe 10. So you can have this dish ready to go in 15 minutes.
This recipe makes 4 side-dish-sized servings. Leftovers keep for a few days when stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.
- 1 small onion (you want about ½ cup when diced; I like red onion, but yellow is a bit more flavorful and I often use that)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 - 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (such as canola)
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste; about half this amount if using regular table salt)
- 2 cups green tomatoes, roughly chopped
- ~2 teaspoons curry powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder (or to taste; you may want to start with half this amount, or omit entirely if spicy isn’t your thing)
- additional salt to taste
- ~2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves as garnish (optional)
- Peel the onion and chop into dice of about ½-inch (more or less). Peel the garlic and chop fine. Peel the ginger root and grate, or chop fine.
- Heat a frying pan, preferably nonstick, on medium heat. When heated, add the oil. Once the oil is hot (it’ll shimmer), add the chopped onions, garlic, and ginger. Add the ½ teaspoon Kosher salt to season and sauté until the onions just become translucent (5 or 6 minutes).
- Meanwhile, wash the green tomatoes and chop them into pieces measuring about ½ to ¾ inch.
- When the onions are ready, add the green tomatoes, the curry powder, and the cayenne pepper. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. You don’t want to overcook the green tomatoes—they’re done when they’re just beyond the raw state, but still fairly crunchy.
- Add additional salt to taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Remove from heat. Stir in chopped cilantro leaves, if using, and serve.
- IMO, green tomatoes should be served either lightly cooked (as in this recipe) or else cooked for a very long time. They tend to be a bit slimy when cooked to an in-between state.
- Green tomatoes look a little like tomatillos. The two are quite different, however (though either one makes a nice salsa). They have different flavors, so you really can’t substitute one for the other.
- If you want to make your own curry powder, here’s a quick recipe: Combine 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 2/3 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1/3 teaspoon turmeric. The flavor won’t be as good as commercial curry powder (which includes more spices), but you’ll be in the ballpark, flavor-wise.
- The original recipe specified butter rather than a neutral oil for the fat. Overkill, IMO.
- Olive oil also works quite well in this recipe, so you could substitute that for neutral oil if you prefer.
Our New Green Tomato Go-To
“Keeper!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, sampling her Curried Green Tomatoes.
“Yes, I thought fried green tomatoes couldn’t be beat,” I said. “But that was before I tasted these.”
“They’d be great with some Indian dishes,” said Mrs K R. “Like Aromatic Yellow Rice and Pink Dal with Swiss Chard."
“Absolutely. Plus, this dish is quite a bit healthier than deep-fried fare,” I said.
“Important point,” said Mrs K R. “It helps with our calorie budget. What we save on this can be allocated to dessert. Baking season is coming up, you know!”
Ah, yes, home economics—the Mrs K R way.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Aromatic Yellow Rice
Pink Dal with Swiss Chard
Sweet Potatoes in Tomato Curry Sauce
Roast Sweet Potatoes
Or check out the index for more recipes