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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Thanksgiving Sides: Fried Green Tomatoes, Savory Pumpkin

We’re getting ready for Thanksgiving with savory pumpkin slices and killer fried green tomatoes. And, Christine Barbour can't live without sweet potatoes.

turkey painted with a hand

Photo: Road Fun (flickr)

Sweet potatoes and pumpkins have always been staples of any Thanksgiving meal. Also, use up the last few green tomatoes from your garden and think fondly of warmer times with fried green tomatoes.

Sweet Potatoes, Thanksgiving And Beyond

Roasted, scalloped, fried, or mashed—sweet potatoes belong as a staple vegetable in everyone’s kitchen.

At least food writer and political science lecturer Christine Barbour seems to think so. She was introduced to sweet potatoes as a young child at Thanksgiving, but she has since developed a complex relationship with this tuber. She loves to mash them with orange juice and butter, or add curry powder and lime to give them a sharper flavor. Or, she will fry them and drizzle shag bark hickory syrup on top.

But it was her mother’s Caramelized Sweet Potato recipe that won her over as a child. She describes the dish as boiled and peeled sweet potatoes bathed in a caramel of brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. “And we would always put a little bit of salt in it to get that salted-caramel flavor, which now is a trendy thing but was so odd at the time.”

More: Check out Christine Barbour’s Caramelized Sweet Potato recipe. Try making it for your Thanksgiving feast this year!

Fried Green Tomatoes

At the end of the season, pick all your tomatoes even if they’re still green. Wrap them in newspaper and store them in a box in a cool dark place or in the bottom of your refrigerator. They’ll keep for a long time.

  • green tomatoes, flour, cornmeal, eggs

    Image 1 of 7

    Tomatoes have a core that you need to cut out, kind of like a cork. Slice a big tomato into four or five pieces and cut off the bottom butt of the tomato because the coating won’t stick to that.

  • whisking eggs

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    Whisk together some buttermilk and eggs to create the wet mixture. Buttermilk will give it tang and it has a richer mouth feel.

  • hand demonstrating orange cornmeal

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    This orange cornmeal is fortified with vitamin K and lots of nutrients. To that, add some grated parmesan cheese, granulated garlic and spices.

  • breading fried green tomatoes

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    A Standard Breading Procedure involves dipping the tomatoes in the flour, then the wet mixture, and then cornmeal. Make one hand your "dry hand" and the other your "wet hand."

  • fried green tomatoes being put into a fryer

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    Cook these in a shallow fry on the stove top. The fat content will increase in whatever you’re frying. If you want to do a less fattening version, sprinkle them with olive oil and bake them in a hot oven.

  • fried green tomatoes on paper towels

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    Hit the freshly-fried tomatoes with some salt and pepper while they’re still hot. The seasoning will stick better.

  • Fried Green Tomatoes, Finished Dish

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    Serve these fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and arugula pesto. Drizzle some red pepper sauce around the outside, and garnish it with a purple basil leaf.


  • 4 green tomatoes (large)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Greek garlic spice blend
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying


  1. Core and slice tomatoes.
  2. Whisk together eggs and buttermilk.
  3. Mix cornmeal, Parmesan, garlic, and spices.
  4. Season flour with salt and pepper.
  5. Dredge tomato slices through a standard breading procedure (flour, egg, then breading).
  6. Fry until crispy.

More: Get more info about the fancy nutrient-rich cornmeal used in this recipe by reading Orange Corn Jam-Packed With Vitamin A, Fights Childhood Blindness.

Savory Sauteed Pumpkin Slices

sauteed pumpkin slices with pumpkin seeds and parsley

Photo: Bernard Gordillo/WFIU

When choosing a pumpkin for cooking, select a smaller pumpkin or squash that feels heavy for its size. They have denser flesh with a smooth texture and a higher sugar content.


  • 1 (2-pound) pumpkin, good meaty French variety
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • toasted pumpkin seeds


  1. Peel and seed pumpkin. Cut into 1/3-inch slices. Toss in olive oil.
  2. Toss spices, sugar and salt in another bowl and pour over pumpkin slices.
  3. Saute in a nonstick pan until caramelized. Turn and color other side lightly. Remove from pan and season with lemon juice.
  4. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds.

More: Explore all of our Anything-But-Pie Pumpkins recipes, courtesy of Sarah Kaiser.

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Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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