My dad insisted that the first few tomatoes had to stay on the vine to ripen, and he always insisted that green tomatoes would be plentiful right before the first frost, so we should wait for that.
Mom was the cook, but Dad was the gardener, so she never got those early tomatoes.
Sometimes if the crop was prolific, Dad would compromise and there would be some green tomatoes mid-season. But for the most part, green tomatoes were a fall item. picked right before the first frost of the season.
And when I say right before the first frost, I mean literally right before the frost. He’d watch the temperatures, and when temperatures dipped low enough, we’d be picking tomatoes in the dark with cold fingers and frosty breath.
Mom would pickle the small green tomatoes, and she'd let some ripen. But there would be plenty of green tomatoes to fry. It was sad that the garden was wiped out by frost, but for a while, we feasted.
You can flavor your fried green tomatoes any way you like. Here, I've added a bit of dried thyme, but you could use whatever you like - or whatever matches well with your dinner. If you like spice, you could use a hint of cayenne. Or add some grated parmesan to the flour mixture.
Fried Green Tomatoes
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium or large green tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine the flour, paprika, thyme and salt in a shallow bowl.
Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. Coat the tomatoes with the seasoned flour and let it rest on a rack for a few minutes, while you heat the oil.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil until it's hot, but not smoking. Add the prepared tomatoes. Cook until browned on one side, then flip and continue cooking until browned on the second side and the tomatoes are folk tender - you don't want them soft and mushy, but they should lose the crunch.
Serve warm. These are great with a shave of lemon zest on top, a spicy aioli, or just as-is.