It’s usually around the beginning of October that I finish breaking down my summer garden. It’s a purifying process for me—shelling the last of the dried beans for next season, pulling and tying corn stalks for decoration, amending the kale to keep it flourishing through the winter. It’s also when my end-of-season tomato plants are truly on their last leg.
I leave my tomato plants in the ground for as long as possible, even though the fruits steadily decline from their peak-season excellence. (A vine-ripened tomato from a half-dead plant still tastes better than one ripened on a counter.) Nevertheless, I’m always left with a healthy surplus of green fruits to try and use up. Some will ripen further after picking, and I keep the best ones for that. Though they don’t taste ideal, they’re still better than nothing—and usually better than store-bought. Some simply need to be used in this organic “as-is” state. And by that, I mean as tart and crunchy green tomatoes.
Unless you (or one of your neighbors) is a hobbyist gardener, you probably don’t see green tomatoes around much. But if you are, you’re likely familiar with the plight of dealing with a load of premature fruit after a particularly prolific year, with threat of frost on the horizon. Back in the days of homesteading, folks made use of everything that came from the land. Nothing was wasted, including the green tomatoes. Despite this fact, there doesn’t seem to be many recipes or ideas out there for maximizing a bumper crop of green tomatoes. That is, besides the celebrated Fried Green Tomatoes of the South.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you can do many other things with your green tomatoes, if you think a bit outside the box: Green tomato pickles. A breakfast of sautéed green tomatoes served with eggs. Or a superb green tomato chutney, among other things. Like…an incredible salsa.
The moment I treated my green tomatoes like tomatillos, revelations came to me—starting with this salsa. Green tomatoes, like tomatillos, are bright and tart. They have a little more tang than a ripe tomatillo, and their denser, crunchier flesh lends a crispier finish than the softer tomatillo. The taste and texture of green tomatoes combines wonderfully with the sweetness and consistency of perfectly ripe mangos. The final product pairs flawlessly with sweet scallops, seared briefly on the grill. A delicious, light meal on the table in no time flat.
It’s like a final hit of summer, when the days start cooling off but you just Can’t. Let. Go.
I imagine this salsa would be an ideal alternative for any other setting where you’d use salsa, though it would couple particularly well with any seafood, chicken, or pork, not to mention a big basket of fresh tortilla chips. Use a firm but fragrant mango for best results. (Pineapple would be a great substitute.) Serve the scallops and salsa as is for a light meal or starter, or serve with side dishes such as rice, fried plantains, or sweet potatoes for an exceptionally nice, heartier meal.
Seared Scallops with Green Tomato-Mango Salsa
Prep time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes chill time
Cook time: 10 minutes
For the salsa:
1 large, ripe mango, peeled and finely chopped
3–4 medium green tomatoes, seeded, cored, and finely chopped
1 large handful cilantro, minced
½ small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 limes, juiced
¼–1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (according to your heat tolerance)
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the seared scallops:
16-20 large scallops
Salt and pepper
- Prepare salsa: Chop all ingredients and toss together in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside in fridge for 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
- Prepare scallops: Pat scallops dry. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Preheat grill to high (or set a well-seasoned pan on the stovetop over medium heat). When very hot, sear the scallops until browned on each side and just cooked through, about 2–3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
- To serve, spoon salsa on serving plates. Divide scallops between plates. Top with a dollop of additional salsa.
Image from Briana Goodall.