Apples and Green Tomatoes Make the Ultimate Food Marriage

These two wed seasonal flavors into an unforgettable salad.

Before the fall officially starts, we’re looking to the South to leverage the last gifts of summer. We’ve partnered with Vivian Howard of A Chef’s Life to bring you recipes, ideas, and tips inspired by the region’s cooking traditions.

Apple butter and fried green tomatoes are Southern staples, but not necessarily things you think of eating together. Apple butter on toast? Yes. On a fried green tomato? No. Pimento cheese and bacon on green tomatoes? Yes. With arugula, apple and cheddar? No.

But from my perspective, apples and green tomatoes are both early fall ingredients, and a great match. Often at my restaurant we treat green tomatoes like a crostini or a cracker—a delivery mechanism for a spread or creamy cheese. Here, I’m treating it like a crouton: the crunchy, satisfying counterpoint to a boldly flavored salad.

The salad and the green tomato work together because they sit on top of a sweet and spicy apple butter that weds the two. The aged cheddar helps, too. If you’ve got leftovers, apple butter mounted with Dijon mustard is a condiment capable of marrying many things, and shouldn’t be overlooked when you need a steak sauce, a companion for chicken or a slather for ribs. 



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Fried Green Tomatoes and Apple Mustard with Apple, Aged Cheddar and Arugula Salad

Hold fried tomatoes in a very low oven or your warming drawer while you finish cooking” —Vivian Howard

Servings: 4



For the apple mustard:

6 cups of apples, skin and core intact,​ cut into wedges (1 ½ pounds)

2 cups diced yellow onion (1 large onion)

1/2 small orange, sliced thin, seeds removed

1 cup apple cider

1 cup water

4 cloves

3 sprigs thyme

1 star anise

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup smooth Dijon mustard


For the tomatoes:

1 cup buttermilk

Zest of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons hot sauce

3 teaspoons salt, divided

2 medium green tomatoes, cut into ½-inch-thick slices

2/3 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 cup vegetable oil (for frying)


For the salad:

1 large Fuji apple, or other crisp sweet eating apple

2 cups baby arugula

4 ounces aged white cheddar, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler

Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup Apple Mustard (recipe below)


For the apple mustard:

Using cheesecloth tie combine the cloves, thyme and star anise in a sachet. Then combine everything but Dijon mustard in a 4-6 quart Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pan with a tight fitting lid. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook 1 hour. Remove lid and cook an additional 30 minutes. Remove sachet. Stir in Dijon and transfer to a high-powered blender. Remove the round insert from top of the blender and cover the hole with a towel. Blend slowly at first, increasing speed incrementally to avoid mess. Blend until incredibly smooth.

Apple mustard will keep, sealed, in the refrigerator for up to a month. Serve warm or at room temperature.


For the tomatoes:

In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, lemon zest, hot sauce and 1 teaspoon salt. Add tomato slices, and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. In a small bowl, stir together cornmeal, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

In a 10-inch skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat until it shimmers but does not smoke. Dredge tomatoes in the cornmeal mixture. Shake off any excess cornmeal and carefully drop each tomato into the oil, making sure slices do not touch. Fry tomatoes on the first side until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Drain tomatoes on paper towels and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.


For salad and to serve:

Cut apple off its core and into 1/4-inch-thick slices. In a medium bowl toss together with the arugula, white cheddar, lemon juice, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and olive oil. 

Smear about 1/4 cup apple mustard over bottom of plates. Top with tomato slices and salad. Serve immediately.

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