How to Use Up All Those Summer Tomatoes
Got a ton of tomatoes? Lucky you! Here’s what to do with them.
Tomato time is here in much of the country, and if you’re lucky, you’ve spied a few fat ones lolling around in your garden or at the farmstand. I tend to eschew fresh tomatoes all year ‘round, waiting for the good stuff to get here. Since they go bad so quickly, here’s what to do when a few pounds land in your lap.
Have you eaten enough gazpacho yet this summer? Hop to it, friend! It’s absolutely no good with winter supermarket tomatoes, and there’s a gazpacho recipe out there for everybody. Make it chunky or smooth, vinegary or sweet, and textured with cucumbers, shrimp, avocado, or even strawberries.
Fresh tomato pasta
You’ve maybe never tried ratatouille done properly, but this killer recipe is too legit to quit. It will take you all afternoon while the eggplant, squash, shallots, red peppers and tomatoes reduce into a savory, sticky tomato jam punctuated with sweet roast vegetables. I like it spread on baguette with goat cheese, and I always stash some in the freezer for winter.
I have yet to make a savory tomato tart (as opposed to tomato pie) but good grief, look how gorgeous they are! Most recipes involve storebought puff pastry or refrigerated pie crusts, and—as is true of many of these applications—you can break the bank with heirlooms or use cheap Roma tomatoes and be happy either way.
Forget the sun-dried tomatoes you ate in the ‘80s; oven-dried is the best way to concentrate tomatoes’ natural sweetness and lend them an interesting texture. Here’s how it’s done.
I hate to bring up winter again, but as you know from Game of Thrones, it is totally coming. And you are going to feel like a freakin’ genius if you make a piping-fresh tomato sauce and bust it out in February.
Mozz, tomato, basil, olive oil, salt, pepper. Boom: Caprese. Mix it up by layering in peaches, or add balsamic if that’s more your jam, but there are few things better than tucking into this salad in August.
Pico de gallo
If you’ve never made your own pico de gallo, make this the summer you decide to start. It’s worlds better than the stuff you’ll buy at the store—yes, even the “fresh-made” stuff. Here’s a terrific Rick Bayless recipe to get you started.
Because Southerners are right and tomato pie rules.
Hello, brunch. Have people over, set up a Bloody Mary bar with olives, lemons, limes, pickled okra, shrimp, and all the fixins your friends can imagine, and use a homemade tomato juice as the base.
When salting tomatoes for pies, tarts, and everything else, don’t forget to save that salted tomato water! It is all kinds of wonderful, can be turned into consommés, spun with pasta, or turned into a marvelous vinaigrette. Ah, summer.
Alex Van Buren is a food and travel writer living in Brooklyn, New York whose work has appeared in Gourmet.com, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and Epicurious. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @alexvanburen.