While most of us are waiting around for those juicy red orbs to ripen on the vine, others are rejoicing when they can pick them green.
Green tomatoes, sliced, dusted with cornmeal, and pan-fried, are a much anticipated summer treat for lots of folks, especially those with roots in the South, where fried green tomatoes are a staple.
Vendors at farmers markets are selling green tomatoes now. Look for them if you want to fry up a batch or even use them in green tomato jam.
If you've never made fried green tomatoes before, here is a recipe to get you started:
Makes 6 servings
3 pounds green tomatoes (about 6 to 8 medium)
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup whole milk
3 cups peanut oil
3 batches Lee Bros. All-Purpose Fry Dredge (recipe follows)
Kosher salt, if needed
Lemon juice, if needed
1. Cut out the stem ends from the tomatoes and slice them 1/4-inch thick; reserve. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a shallow bowl.
2. Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 365 degrees.
3. Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Set a cooling rack on a cookie sheet; place on the top rack of the oven.
4. Spread the dredge on a large plate. Taste the tomatoes. They should have a bright tartness like citrus fruit. If they don't, sprinkle the slices with salt and lemon juice. Then press 1 slice into the dredge, once on each side, shaking off excess. Dunk in the egg mixture, then dredge both sides again. Shake off any excess and place on a clean plate. Repeat with 3 or 4 more slices. Transfer the first batch to the oil.
5. As the first batch cooks, dredge the second batch, keeping an eye on the first. Once the slices are a rich golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes, flip them carefully and fry for 2 minutes more. Transfer the fried tomatoes to a plate lined with double paper towels; let them drain for 1 minute.
6. Transfer the slices to the cooling rack in the oven, arranging them in a single layer, so they remain warm and crisp. Repeat with the remaining slices until all the green tomatoes have been fried. Serve right away with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing (recipe follows).
Makes 3/4 cup (1 batch)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper together twice.
Note: Add a sprinkling of bread crumbs if using dredge for fish or oysters for quick browning.
Makes 11/4 cups
3/4 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk (preferably whole)
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil
1/4 cup finely minced green onions
1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
In a small bowl, whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator not more than 2 days.