We’re making a deep fried thing today, because I don’t even know myself anymore. Vegan fried green tomatoes, to be exact. And if I can do it, you can do it – I’m still something of a frying novice but thanks to a few simple steps my fried green tomatoes turned out righteous. Photo proof:
After we deep fried these tangy green tomatoes to crispy perfection, we put them into the mother of all vegan BLT’s. Made with sourdough bread, chipotle-infused vegan mayo, freshly-baked tofu bacon, the vegan FGT’s, and fresh summer lettuce, in the moment I was eating it I felt like there was nothing tastier in the world.
Being that they’re actually typical red tomatoes that are picked when they’re still firm, green, and not totally ripe, green tomatoes are a rare and fleeting treat here in Baltimore. They show up in the CSA for a few weeks at most. I imagine they must be more prevalent further south from here given that they’re a hallmark of Southern cuisine. They have a tangy flavor and a robust texture that stands up well to the frying process.
When I was growing up in Washington state, there was a pretty strong late summer tomato game, but I don’t recall green tomatoes making much of an appearance on our plates. Because I went vegan shortly after moving to the quasi-south, I don’t recall whether I tried the non-vegan version of this summer treat in the past and so I can’t tell you exactly how it chalks up. We did enjoy these vegan TLT’s (tofu-lettuce-tomato) with our summer roommate who’s an omnivore and he liked them just as much as we did. I did quite a bit of research on how fried green tomatoes are typically made, and different options for veganizing the recipe and I feel good about the breadcrumb and cornmeal combo I settled on.
But wait – there’s more! When you love someone, you make sure they’re included in your vegan fried green tomato BLT feast, and that’s why these little gems were also made completely gluten-free so that my better half could partake! Not to worry, you can totally use the standard gluten-ful ingredients. Some recipes are real finicky when I convert them over, but the fried green tomato batter and coating were imperceptibly different.
Without further ado, enjoy these vegan fried green tomatoes, turn ’em into the full-stop BLT if you like, and have a taste of summer before it’s gone!
Vegan Fried Green Tomato BLTs
Vegan fried green tomatoes are nestled into sourdough bread with tofu bacon, crisp lettuce, and chipotle cashew mayo for an unforgettable vegan summer sandwich!
For the vegan fried green tomatoes:
- 4 large green (unripe) tomatoes cut into 1/4-inch-to-1/8-inch slices, depending on preference
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free if needed, see note)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup aquafaba (see note)
- 2 tbsp plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1/2 cup panko-style breadcrumbs (check ingredients for milk; gluten-free if needed, see note)
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
For the vegan fried green tomatoes:
Scoop the flour onto a plate and stir in the salt, paprika, and garlic powder. In a medium bowl, mix together the aquafaba and the non-dairy milk. On a second plate, mix together the breadcrumbs, cornmeal, salt, and ground black pepper. Also set aside an empty plate or baking sheet for battered tomatoes, and a metal cooling rack or plate lined with paper towels for cooked tomatoes.
Add enough oil in a large pan to be between about 1/2 inch deep. Heat over medium heat. (If you have a thermometer, aim for 360 degrees Fahrenheit). It's really important that the oil is heated up all the way before you put any tomatoes in it.
With one green tomato slice at a time, lightly dip the tomato into flour mixture and shake off any excess. Next dip it into the aquafaba mixture and let any excess drip off. Finally, dip it into the breadcrumb mixture and press gently to adhere the coating. Let any excess crumbs fall off and place the battered tomato on a plate.
Place the tomatoes into the frying pan a few at a time (I can fit 4 in my pan) without crowding them. Make sure to allow space between them in the pan. When the tomatoes are browned on one side, flip them over and fry them on the other side - I find this is about 2-3 minutes per side.
Once browned on both sides, remove them from the pan with a wooden slotted spoon, and place them on the prepared cooling rack or lined plate. Sprinkle with a little bit of additional salt right when they come out of the fryer. Let the oil heat back up for a moment and then repeat until all of the vegan fried green tomatoes are done. Serve immediately.
These fried green tomatoes are far and away best served immediately, but leftovers can be cooled completely to room temperature, stored in a container in the fridge, and reheated in the oven to get somewhat crispy again.
For the tofu bacon-lettuce-fried green tomato BLT sandwiches:
Lightly toast your bread slices. Spread vegan mayo onto the bread, topped with some hot sauce if desired. Add about two slices of tofu bacon, two pieces of lettuce, a slice of fresh red tomato, and two of the vegan fried green tomatoes to each sandwich. Enjoy right away.
GLUTEN-FREE: For making these vegan fried green tomato sammies gluten-free, I prefer Kikkoman gluten-free panko-style bread crumbs; King Arthur Flour All-Purpose gluten-free blend (with 1/2 tsp xanthan gum per cup added); and Little Northern Bakehouse sandwich bread. I formerly recommended Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour, but I no longer do since they reformulated it.
NUTRITION: Nutrition facts include 10% of the oil, but none of the sandwich toppings except for whole grain bread slices.
AQUAFABA: Aquafaba is the cooking liquid from beans. I use the liquid drained directly from a can of chickpeas or white beans. Most of the time if you're lucky you can get about 1/2 cup from each can, so one should suffice for this recipe. If I'm cooking canned beans and not using the aquafaba, I freeze it for later.