Tips on selecting, storing and preparing tomatoes with recipe ideas for everything from drinks and appetizers to mains and sides.
We are finally at that time of year where tomatoes are worth buying again. Tomatoes (like most fruits and vegetables) are truly best enjoyed when in season or you run the risk of slicing into a mealy, flavorless specimen.
Luckily at this very moment, tomatoes are hitting their peak and colorful, sweet, juicy varieties are easy to find at farmers markets and supermarkets alike. With the mid-summer heat come tomatoes that are brimming with flavor and just begging to be put to good use.
PEAK TOMATO SEASON: Tomato season generally runs from June to the end of October, with its peak from July to September.
SELECTING RIPE TOMATOES:
- Appearance – Ripe tomatoes of any kind should have a taut, shiny skin free from blemishes. Steer clear of tomatoes with soft spots or black marks as that can indicate rotting underneath.
- Feel – They should feel heavy for their size and yield gently to pressure when touched. Juicy tomatoes will be heavier than their mealy counter parts but be careful, choose them too firm and they won’t be ripe but too soft and they’ll turn to mush faster than you can use them.
HOW TO STORE TOMATOES: Treat them gently so they don’t bruise. Never store tomatoes in the fridge, refrigerating tomatoes will cause them to lose flavor and develop a mealy texture. The best way to store them is stem down in an even layer at room temperature out of any direct sunlight until you are ready to use them. They should keep for at least 4 or 5 days depending on how ripe they were when purchased.
HOW TO PREPARE:
- Try this variation on a Bloody Mary: the Verde Mary Cocktail made with green tomatoes and tomatillos.
- Blanco tequila is paired with tomato water in this creative cocktail that showcases the essence of tomato flavor while remaining light and refreshing.
- Juicy little tomatoes meet up with fresh thyme and take a tumble with salty black olives before being spread atop a cushion of cheese stuffed dough in my gluten-free and grain-free foccacia bread.
- Sprinkled with Herbes de Provence and served with a slow roasted tomato sauce, grissini (Italian breadsticks) are a twist on traditional breadsticks and marinara sauce.
- Roasted heirloom tomatoes are the base of this smoky and thick gazpacho that’s topped with a salsa of yellow tomatoes, cucumbers, and yellow plums.
- Smooth and flavorful, this chilled tomato soup is made from both fresh and sun-dried tomatoes for a refreshingly different way to enjoy ripe seasonal tomatoes.
- This tomato soup with mozzarella and coriander olive oil is a mixture of color, freshness and simplicity.
- Baking eggs inside a tomato keeps them moist and tender. You’ll find garlic, baby spinach, and cheddar in these baked eggs as well.
- These are an elegant twist on socca, a chickpea flatbread typical of Nice, France. Slices of socca are topped with slow roasted tomatoes and pesto.
- Sweet vine ripened heirloom tomatoes don’t need much dressing up, a little balsamic vinegar some olive oil and a few pieces of torn basil make for a perfect salad. A variety of red, yellow, and orange tomatoes make this seasonal salad flavorful as well as beautiful.
- A gorgeous grilled watermelon and tomato salad that takes mere minutes to prepare.
- Sweet blueberries are just the right foil to acidic tomatoes, and tangy feta in this sweet and savory salad.
- Fresh, juicy tomatoes are sautéed with onions and white wine for a wonderful complement to any meal.
- Slices of fennel and sweet tomatoes are baked in a creamy sauce with hints of Parmesan cheese in my tomato fennel gratin.
- Nashira tells us that no kitchen should be without this versatile tomato chutney since the ubiquitous Indian condiment goes well with almost anything.
- Eggplant zucchini and tomatoes become even better after being blitzed in a hot oven to concentrate and sweeten their flavors. The roasted vegetables are then bathed with olive oil and packed into jars with garlic and thyme.
- While most people go for sauces, salsas, pastes and whole preserved tomatoes, Marisa goes for pickled red tomatoes that are tender and bright with flavor.
How do you like to enjoy tomatoes?