Buttermilk Fried Green Heirloom Tomatoes



While at the co-op in Santa Monica I found these completely unripe, huge greenish/yellowish heirloom tomatoes, and immediately thought "heirloom tomatoes, would those work for frying?" Why wouldn't they?! They were very, very firm - and often times I find heirloom tomatoes to be less mealy than regular ones.

I adapted this recipe from State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, which I visited a couple of months ago. Gorged myself on their amazing little dishes, which they circle around in trays for you to visually pick and choose... kind of reminded me of a Dim Sum restaurant concept, anyhow, I'm getting side-tracked!

To make for a very crisp outer crust, I created two stages of coating. Success!! The little bit of extra effort definitely made for a very crispy outside, and succulent inside! Feel free to skip the first coating of the dry mix if you want a quicker recipe.


In medium bowl - Dry Mix 1:

  • 1 cup organic (non-gmo) cornmeal

  • 1/2 cup organic (non-gmo) cornstarch

In medium bowl - Dry Mix 2:

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted

  • 1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted

  • 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (for quick go-to I like cup4cup)

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (I like aleppo chili)

  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated

  • 12 1/4-inch-thick slices green (unripe) heirloom (or regular) tomatoes

  • Vegetable oil (for frying) - Coconut Oil is also great as in has a high-heat point

In shallow bowl - Wet Mix:

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 2 Eggs

Preparation // 60 minutes

  • In a medium bowl, mix cornmeal and cornstarch.

  • Cut Tomatoes into thick 1/2" slices, and toss in first dry mix, coating them well by pressing down evenly. Lay slices on a silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and freeze for 20 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, grind, or crush fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle. Lightly grind or crush pumpkin seeds (to small pieces for texture, do not pulverize). Add fennel and pumpkin seeds to another medium bowl, along with GF flour, potato starch, salt and all spices. Season to taste with more salt, if desired, and pepper; mix well. (DO AHEAD: Crumb mixture can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

  • Whisk buttermilk, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a large glass baking dish. Add tomato slices and turn to coat.

  • Then toss them into the second Dry Mix, coating them well by pressing down evenly. Place on a silpat/parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and freeze for 20 minutes.

  • Place a wire rack on baking sheet; set aside. Pour oil into a large heavy pot to a depth of 1". Working in batches, fry tomato slices in oil until golden brown and crisp, about 3-4 minutes. 

  • Transfer fried tomatoes to prepared wire rack to drain and keep crisp for serving (layering them can create sogginess). 
    Season with salt and pepper.

  • Serve over a bed of your preferred greens with 2-3 tomato slices.

Variations //
DAIRY FREE leave out the buttermilk, and add an extra egg (as needed)
EGG FREE leave out eggs, use only buttermilk as needed
CORN FREE in a food processor (or spice grinder), grind pumpkin seeds to make 1 cup, and also substitute cornstarch with potato starch