Green Tomatoes for Lori

Late last fall, I was picking up my son Flynn from the home of our friends’ Lori and Gerard, where he was playing with his friend — their daughter Kiana.

Green tomatoes, herbs & squash blossom

Green tomatoes, herbs & squash blossom

Lori and I were standing in the yard chatting while the kids hammered on their wood projects and toddler Immy rolled around in a big plastic Smart Car-looking toy she found on the patio. We talked of the difficulty of growing vegetables in Topanga Canyon, as I admired her tall, barren tomato plants.

“There are still a few green tomatoes on there,” she said, “I always wish I knew something to do with them.”

I knew something to do with them!

Awhile back, armed with a bounty of green tomatoes some critter had knocked off the vine and not wanting to do the only thing I could think of — caking them in cornmeal and frying them, southern-style — I faced the same dilemma. And then I discovered a Mario Batali recipe for spaghetti with green tomatoes. As I often do, I veered from the instructions and made my own version, which in my imagination at least was far superior. (Sorry Mario — I love ya, man.)

I told Lori I would get her the recipe, went home to begin a blog post about green tomatoes, and promptly forgot all about all of it. Fast forward to now, the beginning of tomato season, critters once again knocking green tomatoes off my plants, and I remembered! Digging around the archived drafts, I found the original sketches for the post and decided to finish what I’d started.

A vegetarian friend was bringing his new girlfriend to dinner, I would make my first green tomato pasta of the season, and unaware of whether or not Lori was even growing tomatoes this year, would share the green nugget of wisdom with her and the world.


What you are essentially making is a pesto, albeit a lighter, fresher version bulked up with the addition of green tomatoes. The original Batali recipe calls for mint, basil, parsley and arugula. In another official version I found online, he had swapped out dill for the parsley. You can essentially create your own version of this — for example, I like to use one of my favorite herbs, tarragon, to add a grassy licorice note, and a sprig of rosemary for excitement, as well as come crushed red pepper to spice it up a bit and a couple zucchini blossoms for color. I also like using pasta other than spaghetti — the fun, curly cavatappi, in this case.

So six months late and without further ado… here, Lori, is what to do with your green tomatoes. Enjoy!

*    *    *

Cavatappi with green tomatoes
serves 4 – 6

1 lb. cavatappi, penne or other pasta noodle
2 lbs. green tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh tarragon
1/4 cup arugula
1 sprig mint
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan reggiano
4 zucchini blossoms, torn into strips (optional)
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
flaky sea salt to taste

Heat water to a boil in a large pot to cook the cavatappi (or whatever pasta you are using). While your pasta is cooking, place green tomatoes, herbs and olive oil in a food processor and puree until smooth but still a little chunky.

When pasta reaches al dente, place green tomato sauce in a large pan over high heat. With a large sieve or slotted spoon, scoop noodles from pasta water directly into pan with sauce. Toss or stir for one minute until pasta is coated with sauce. Remove from heat, toss in parmesan, zucchini flowers (if using) and crushed red pepper, season to taste with salt and serve.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rachelocal
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 01:43:23

    YUM! I’ve managed to kill my tomato plants, so I’ll be buying my tomatoes red and ripe, but this looks so refreshing and light. I’ll have to bug my friend John, who has a zillion tomato plants, for some green ones.


  2. Erica
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 02:25:54

    beautiful post!


  3. Lori Koefoed
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 03:04:30

    Thank you, Sean! I am indeed growing tomatoes this year, some heirloom varieties from Home Depot instead of my favorite low-acid Japanese tomatoes from seed (how did June arrive so quickly??). I’m looking forward to trying this, since it sounds delicious and I can’t stand the sight of those last, anemic tomatoes clinging to life in October 🙂


  4. glennis
    Jun 23, 2013 @ 05:49:39

    Pasta is a good idea. Pickles are good, too!


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