Green tomatoes: five ways to make the most of an accidental crop

Green tomatoes: five ways to make the most of an accidental crop

Easy being green: tomatoes needn't be red to be amazing (Photo by Nathan Siemers) 

Weeks of chilly temperatures and relentless rain have slowed the growth of many local crops, but none have been worse hit than Ontario’s finicky tomatoes. Temperatures below 13 degrees halt the process that ripens tomatoes and turns them red. But chin up, gardeners and gourmets: Toronto’s polyglot dining scene has the cure for these woes. We asked some of the city’s chefs what to do with an all-green crop. Here, five ways to turn unripened tomatoes into a delicacy.

• Fried green tomatoes may not be the most original use of the fruit, but Annex comfort food joint Southern Accent knows how to do them right. Chef Thess Mani slices tomatoes into half-inch rounds before dipping them in egg and four coatings: flour, cornmeal, panko and the restaurant’s signature blackening mix. Fried to a dark brown hue and served with a remoulade sauce, these delicious discs are a traditional take on a soul food classic.

• At The Stockyards, pit boss and owner Tom Davis uses fried green tomatoes in his gussied-up BLT. The tomatoes are marinated in buttermilk and herbs, fried until crispy, then laid in a ciabatta with lemon mayo, arugula and house-smoked bacon.

• In a humble but inspired preparation, Katz’s Deli and Corned Beef Emporium pickles their green tomatoes whole in a dill-spiked brine, then slices them for the customer. The result is crunchy and delectable, but that’s all we know—Katz’s wouldn’t give up any of the pickling ingredients, save the dill.

• “Anything can be a salsa,” claims owner Sylvia Llewellyn of Julie’s Cuban Diner, and green tomatoes are no exception. Hers are diced then simmered with oregano, cumin, red tomatoes, onions, green peppers, lime, and pineapple or mango. The result is a pulp of wonderfully colliding flavours, served chilled (usually with fish).

Colborne Lane’s alchemical take on a caprese salad is a daring culinary feat. Chef Claudio Aprile poaches green tomatoes at a low temperature for six hours in olive oil with “a ridiculous amount of basil.” He then peels and serves them with black olive sorbet, emulsified buffalo mozzarella, basil sauce and micro basil.