Michelle Palmer: What to do with green tomatoes (recipe)

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Early freeze and everyone has pulled the green ones; looking at what a person can make besides fried green tomatoes. Yes, you can set them on the windowsill, put them in cardboard boxes, up on a perforated cookie cooling rack, etc.

The first published recipe for fried green tomatoes appeared in The Daily Inter Ocean, a Chicago newspaper, in 1877. Food was scarce and nothing was wasted! By the 1880s, fried green tomatoes started appearing in a lot more newspapers, magazines, and cookbooks, and they're often presented as a practical solution to a specific seasonal problem.

In an 1888 column for Good Housekeeping, Elisabeth Robinson Scovil pointed out that "in some parts of the country all the tomatoes on the vines do not turn red before the frost puts a stop to the process of ripening.” In 1933, Ann Barrett, a New York-based food writer, devoted an installment of her syndicated column "What's Good to Eat" to "Fried Green Tomatoes: Favorite Dish for Now.”

The popularity of fried green tomatoes as a sort of generic American dish peaked around World War II, and appearances in cookbooks and newspapers started to trail off in the 1950s. By the 1970s, fried green tomatoes were lingering around as a fairly obscure recipe.

In addition to the classic fried green tomato is over 25 plus recipes that can be found on the Internet on how to cook with a green tomato.

Some years ago, my farm partner Carolyn Schweber and I had a farm called “Two Hoe Organics.” She was a horticulturist and me a chef with 1-1/4-acre land. We planted so many varieties of tomatoes.

The first freeze was on its way! Well, we ended up with so many that we did not know what to do with so many green tomatoes. At this time, I read that green tomato and apple are interchangeable.

Hence the green tomato tarte was made. Back in the day when the Greenhouse Project fundraiser was in the back parking lot of Adele’s I donated one for that fundraiser and a number of years in a row…

Green tomato tarte


1– 9-inch butter pie crust

2 pounds small green tomatoes

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

½ teaspoon Himalayan fine salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cardamom

½ cup cane granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown cane sugar

3 tablespoons organic cornstarch

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1-10-inch round piece parchment paper

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar


Line a 9-inch tarte pan with removable bottom with butter pie crust, chill in refrigerator while assembling filling.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash tomatoes and slice 1/8-inch, put in saucepan with vinegar, lemon zest, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, cooking over low heat while stirring constantly.

Mix cane sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a separate bowl, then add to tomato mixture. Cook until mixture becomes clear and stir constantly. Remove from heat then add butter. Cool slightly.

Remove the crust, lined tarte pan from the refrigerator and pour tomato mixture into the crust. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place parchment paper on top of the tarte and put the tarte pan on a sheet pan and place the pan in the oven carefully.

Bake for 30 minutes, remove parchment, and bake 10 more minutes until brown.

Michelle Palmer is owner of Absolutely Michelle’s Chef-for-Hire. 


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