Gettin’ Down to the Nitty Gritty

We’re back and today we have our last recipe from North Carolina. After all, we’ve got to get rolling with some Romanian dishes here soon too. In fact, stay tuned early next week for our first taste of Romania – it’s a twofer!

Now before we cross the Atlantic, we’re going to round out this culinary tour with a classic Southern dish inspired by our favorite restaurant from North Carolina, the Tupelo Honey Cafe. The moment I saw “Fried Green Tomatoes- served over goat cheese grits with basil” on the menu, I knew I was going to be sold. Sure enough Tupelo didn’t disappoint. The dish was fantastic! So of course we had to see if we could recreate the magic at home. 

The first challenge was finding green tomatoes, but not to fear. You know we’re relentless in our quest for traditional ingredients. We wouldn’t let you down.

To begin, we prepared the breading. In the first bowl we combined two eggs with some milk, in the second whole wheat flour and in the third, a mix of cornmeal and bread crumbs.

Next we grabbed the ingredients to start the grits including butter, cream, goat cheese and of course…grits!

We prepared the dish by bringing the water to a boil and slowly stirring in the grits. We then reduced the heat and left the grits to thicken. In the meantime, we coated the tomatoes in the flour, dipped them in the egg mixture and then dredged them in the cornmeal and breadcrumbs. Then we dropped them into about 1/2-inch of heated canola oil to deep fry.

We fried the tomatoes until golden brown on both sides, then placed them on paper towels to drain.

Next we turned back to the grits which were now nice and thick, and stirred in the butter, cream and cheese. Once incorporated we turned the grits out onto a platter (courtesy of my Great Grandma’s former restaurant!) and topped them with some basil.

Then for the finishing touches we laid the fried green tomatoes on top for serving. Mmmmm. They were already making me drool.

The kids on the other hand weren’t really very excited about grits and green tomatoes. I did try to explain to them that they like all kinds of foods fried that they don’t typically like unfried – fried mushrooms, fried zucchini, french fries to name a few. That seemed to help a little, at least the complaints stopped anyway.

We then served our grits and greens alongside some Bourbon steak (which incidentally is much better in the quesadillas).

So how did our fried green tomatoes stack up to our memory? Well, the tomatoes were definitely close and darn delicious. They were tart, tangy and fried to perfection. And not surprisingly when it came to the kids, well, everything does taste better fried, right? They both gave the tomatoes 3 spoons. As did Mike. I was a bit more generous and gave them 4 spoons. I’m quite smitten with the flavor of green tomatoes. So what I want to know is does that count as eating my greens?! Probably not. Bummer.

As for the grits, well, perhaps it’s our Yankee roots, but we just didn’t pull these off quite right. The flavor was dead on – the goat cheese and basil came together beautifully, but the texture was just not right. They were far too lumpy (perhaps they were Mama Bear’s grits). We have had some success with grits before. In fact, the last time we made them was much more successful. So, I think we’ll have to give them another go because the flavors really do go well together. As for spoon ratings, the grits were 2 spoons all around. Had it not been for the texture issue, they would have ranked higher.

So that wraps up this culinary tour of the Tar Heel state. We’ll be back next week to kick off summer vacation with our first recipes from Romania and perhaps a special little treat. Until then, we’ll leave you with one more picture from our North Carolina getaway. It has been a good year for rainbows so far. Happy weekend everyone!

Print this recipe: Grits with Goat Cheese and Fried Green Tomatoes

34 thoughts on “Gettin’ Down to the Nitty Gritty

  1. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    How interesting to deep fry tomatoes! I fried a lot of veggies in form of tempoura or panko, but not tomato even once! I gotta try this for fun! Such a gorgeous rainbow…


  2. Eva says:

    As you can imagine, Kristy, we don’t get many green tomatoes up here; I’ve always wondered if they are actually green tomatoes or just tomatoes that are not ripe?
    Sadly this one doesn’t do anything for me, grits are not something I love. But the photos are surely lovely!


  3. Just A Smidgen says:

    I’m so happy to be back reading your posts:) I think this is really a dish I’d enjoy.. I’ve never made grits so I wonder what they taste like? What the texture is like? It would be great to have a new “side” for dinners! xo Smidge


    • Kristy says:

      Grits, in my opinion, are rather bland on their own but take on flavors pretty well. We’ve had them spicy with shrimp and now with the goat cheese. I prefer them with the goat cheese and basil myself. As for texture, I think it’s rather like a porridge. It’s slightly grainy and definitely best served HOT! 🙂 Welcome back Smidge!


  4. Karen says:

    A true southern meal…fried green tomatoes and grits. To make the grits have a better texture just add more water to the cooked grits and simmer covered to a longer amount of time. Then uncover for the water to evaporate.


  5. Three Well Beings says:

    Kristy, I think this is the favorite dish you’ve put up here! I just love friend green tomatoes anyway, and this recipe just makes my mouth water. I can’t wait for my tomatoes to set…I won’t need to wait for them to ripen. And I enjoy grits, too. I don’t even need the steak, but it does look good! Hope you have a good weekend! Debra


  6. Norma Chang says:

    Hotly spiced and Charles,
    Green tomatoes used for making fried green tomatoes are unripe tomatoes. There is also a green tomato variety that stays green even when ready. To know if it is ready you gently press the blossom end, if it is soft the green tomato is ready.
    Love your photos especially the last one, would look great framed.


  7. Courtney says:

    Oooh, I’ve been sizing up Fried Green Tomato recipes… and with a four spoon recommendation from you, Kristy, I think we’re going all in! (If I can find some.) 🙂


  8. Profiteroles & Ponytails says:

    I wouldn’t know how to evaluate the texture of the grits — as I’ve never had them. (My aunt is from Virginia, so I’ve always been curious about them though.) I’m quite impressed the kids tried the fried green tomatoes — mine wouldn’t, even fried! Waiting anxiously for the twofer!


  9. sallybr says:

    I only had fried green tomatoes once, but loved them! Thanks, by the way, for the opportunity of learning yet another new word in the beautiful English idiom: twofer! Amazing what I learn on my favorite food blogs! 😉

    I look forward to Romania!


  10. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    I absolutely love the photo of the sliced green tomatoes. So gorgeous! And there’s just something about fried green tomatoes that tugs at my heartstrings…(reminiscent of southern tearjerkers perhaps…). This kind of food is also quite different from our experience here in the north (I don’t think I’ve ever come across fried green tomatoes – nor grits – on a menu in Canada), and this recipe is so great with the goat cheese and basil (how cool that your great grandma had a restaurant – love the platter!). Too bad about the taste of the grits but it does sound like it may be worth giving it another go with the combination of flavours. Beautiful rainbow snap Kristy.


  11. Charles says:

    Fried green tomatoes, dunh dunh dunh chakawow ~~~

    I’m wondering now the same thing as Charlie actually… are they actually a variety or just unripe “red’uns”.

    I’ve never tried grits before… they don’t sell them here at all. I’m going maybe order some sometime from that American online grocer which ships to France. Are they “like” anything in particular? I’m trying to imagine them. The name makes me think they’re rough and crunchy… I guess not? 😀

    Love the last photo – you’re *higher* than the top of the rainbow?!


    • Kristy says:

      Hmmm. How to describe grits. Well, they aren’t for everyone I don’t believe. They are a bit mushy and rather bland on their own. That’s why they’re often spiced up or loaded with cheese. As far as consistency goes, I suppose it’s a bit like a porridge. Slightly grainier than mashed potatoes. I’m not a huge fan of grits personally, but with the goat cheese and basil I’d certainly pick them off a menu. 🙂 And I hadn’t noticed – we were higher than the rainbow. 🙂 It was a wonderful trip.


  12. hotlyspiced says:

    I love the look of those green tomatoes. Pardon my ignorance but are green tomatoes a breed that you eat green or are green tomatoes just unripe tomatoes picked early? I first heard of ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ when that movie came out all those years ago, prior to that I had never heard of anyone eating a green tomato. These look so yummy and I think they would have been delicious with the goat’s cheese and basil. Have a lovely weekend xx


    • Kristy says:

      Green tomatoes are either a variety of tomatoes that remains green when ripe or tomatoes that are picked before fully ripened. Their taste is a bit more tart than a red tomato and simply wonderful if you ask me. 🙂


  13. ChgoJohn says:

    I’ve enjoyed fried green tomatoes but have never made them myself. I see green tomatoes on the vine and all I can think is that “in a week or so I can make sauce.” EIther I change my way of thinking or find a source for green tomatoes other than my yard. Either way, when I’m ready, I’ll know to come here to get the recipe.
    I’m looking forward to your Romanian dishes. My neighbors are Romanian and I know very little of their cuisine, although she does make killer stuffed bell peppers. YUM!


  14. Dawn says:

    I have never had fried green tomatoes, but I think you could fry just about anything and it would be delicious!!! Beautiful picture of the rainbow!


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