The time is ripe for using green tomatoes in an assortment of delicious recipes

Once the green tomato played a very small role in the vegetable kingdom. It was fried in flour or cornmeal, used in mincemeat, or baked in a pie that was often greeted with ambivalence. Now things are different.

A year ago Janet Ballantyne, who knows her tomatoes, came to the defense of the green variety. She has already done much to wipe out the skepticism that sometimes arises when green tomato quiche or green tomato muffins are mentioned.

Her ''Red and Green Tomato Cookbook'' (Garden Way Publishing, Charlotte, Vt. 05445, $5.95 paperback) proves that the unripe tomato is as suitable for appetizers, soups, and breads as for cakes, pies, and cookies.

With gardens full of fresh tarragon and green tomatoes, it seems the logical time to enjoy this combination.

Here is her recipe for Green Tomato Tarragon Chicken. Green Tomato Tarragon Chicken

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter

6 pieces of chicken

4 cups diced green tomatoes

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon tarragon

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large frying pan, heat oil and butter, and brown chicken on both sides. Remove chicken and place in baking dish.

In medium size saucepan, combine tomatoes, water, and honey, and cook for 1/2 hour or until tomatoes are soft. Puree tomatoes with cooking liquid in blender. Add cream, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Pour this sauce over chicken and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles and garnish with Parmesan cheese. Serves 6. Curried Green Tomatoes

2 tablespoons minced onion

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 cups sliced green tomatoes

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon curry powder (or to taste)

1 tablespoon chopped parsley (garnish)

Saute onion in the butter until light brown. Add green tomatoes. Stir and cook tomatoes slowly until tender. Add salt, paprika, and curry powder. Garnish tomatoes with parsley. Serves 4.

One of the oldest methods of green tomato preparation is frying. New Englanders enjoy them this way for breakfast, and they are sometimes served with cream sauce - plain, spiced with curry, or enriched with cheese. Old-Fashioned Fried Green Tomatoes

1 1/2 pounds green tomatoes

Tabasco sauce

Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup flour

Coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Cooking oil or bacon grease

Cut tomatoes in 1/4-inch thick slices. Sprinkle slices with Tabasco and Worcestershire.

Combine flour with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Put in plastic bag.

Add tomato slices a few at a time and toss to coat with the flour. Shake off excess.

Heat about 1/4-inch of oil or bacon grease in skillet and fry tomatoes until golden brown on each side.

Add tomatoes a few at a time to avoid overcrowding. Drain on paper towels. Serve at once. Serves 4. Green Tomato Spice Bread

5 cups unbleached flour, sifted

5 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed

4 tablespoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup honey

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups chopped green tomato

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/2 cups raisins

2 tablespoons grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together all dry ingredients.

In separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Beat well.

Grease 3 5 by 9-inch loaf pans and divide batter among them.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until bread tests done.

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