35+ Ways to Use Tomatoes Past Their Prime
Sad but true: Not every summer tomato is sandwich or salad-worthy. Or maybe your perfect heirloom tomatoes sat on the counter one day too long and have lost their glory. Fortunately, there's a simple way around that: Taking your tomatoes that are past their prime and disguising their flaws by cooking them. Repurpose those slightly disappointing tomatoes into soups, sauces, pies, tarts, and more while still capitalizing on their flavor. With the help of an oven, stove, or pressure cooker, nobody has to know you used less-than-ideal tomatoes.
Heirloom Tomato Pie
If you are a fan of tomato pies, you know they can often be soggy and unappetizing. Raw tomatoes (which are fabulous in BLT sandwiches) are naturally full of water, which tends to leach out as the pie cooks, giving it a runny texture. You don’t have to give up on tasty tomato pies, however, if you use this tip. Roast most of the tomatoes before the pie goes into the oven. Not only does this simple step keep the filling from being too wet, but it also caramelizes the tomatoes, intensifying their flavor. You can even roast them up to a day in advance. When they have cooled, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use. Besides roasted tomatoes, other quality ingredients play a role in creating a tasty tomato pie. Creamy Dukes Mayonnaise helps bind the pie together while adding a touch of vinegary taste, extra-sharp Cheddar cheese has a bolder flavor than regular sharp Cheddar, and contains less moisture, which helps keep the filling firm. Dijon mustard adds a tangy note, balancing out the sweetness of the tomatoes and richness of the buttery crust.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
What better way to capture the flavor of summer (to be enjoyed months from now as the weather starts to cool down) than with your own fresh tomato sauce, made with plump, peak season maters? Jarred, grocery store brands simply cannot compare to the vibrant tomato flavor this sauce delivers. The recipe here is for canning a very basic salted sauce—which can be used as the base for pasta/pizza sauce or tomato soup—as you’ll want to wait until you’re ready to pop the seal and cook with your sauce to add in aromatics and seasonings like garlic, onion, and herbs. It’s important that you closely follow the recommended directions for canning tomato products in order to avoid the risk of botulism. You can find citric acid on the baking aisle or where canning products are located in the grocery store; however, you can also substitute bottled lemon juice in place of the citric acid (1 tablespoon of juice per pint-sized jar).
Pork Chops with Tomato-Bacon Gravy
This recipe will remind you of how good a pork chop can be. While the pork chops roast in the oven, the savory pan gravy comes together quickly on the stove-top, making a company-worthy meal in under an hour. You can easily swap out the green beans for thin asparagus spears or sliced zucchini for a personalized dish.
Ziti with Mushroom, Fennel, and Tomato Ragu
Think your Ragu has to filled with ground beef? Think again. While traditionally a meat sauce, we’ve developed flavors and textures in this sauce with multiple varieties of mushrooms. Serve a loaf of warm bread to sop up all the saucy goodness of this pasta dish. Use a Parmesan rind in your Ragu, soups, and stews to subtly infuse the dish with the flavors of the cheese. If the rind doesn’t dissolve during the cooking process, you can remove it from the mixture, as instructed in this recipe, or break it up with a fork into small, chewy pieces. While any pasta shape will work with this hearty vegetarian dish, we prefer penne or ziti; these noodles help capture every last bite of the chunky sauce.
Instant Pot Sambhar
This dish is traditionally prepared with sambar spice, a mixture of ground spices and lentils—what we have here is a simplified version that still provides lots of layers of flavor and just the right amount of heat. This recipe has a lot of steps, so give yourself plenty of time for the pressure cooker to return to pressure between cooking the lentils and the sweet potatoes. Despite the high involvement, the different elements of this recipe all come together at the same time.
Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Blistered Tomatoes
This twist on chicken piccata has the traditional sauce made from butter, lemon juice, capers, and white wine, but gets a burst of summery flavor from blistered tomatoes. Avoid over-stirring the cherry tomatoes in the hot pan; you want them to brown and caramelize. Use your favorite dry white wine in the recipe, and serve the rest with dinner.
This simple and vibrant vegetable tart is great go-to recipe for entertaining. Encasing all of the classic flavors of ratatouille in a buttery, flakey crust (not to mention, adding a sprinkling of creamy goat cheese), is a beautiful and delicious way to enjoy a bounty of summer produce. Pre-roasting the vegetables allows them to develop nice color and keeps them from leaking liquid onto the crust while you bake the assembled tart. Serve as an appetizer or with a green salad for a light and lovely meal.
Sheet Pan Pizza with Corn, Tomatoes, and Sausage
We topped this summer pizza with fresh corn, bell peppers, plum tomatoes, and hot Italian sausgae. The sausage and tomatoes cook together to create a rich sauce, which is used as a base for summer corn, peppers, and even more tomatoes. Use fresh pizza dough and par-cook the crust before adding the toppings for the crispiest results.
Cherry Tomato Confit
Because the oil picks up the flavors of the garlic and thyme, a milder, less expensive oil works best.
Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies with Tomato Jam
This clever take on beloved thumbprint cookies is sweet and savory. Refrigerated dough keeps for days, and the baked cookies freeze well.
Cherry Tomato Pasta With Proscuitto and Asiago
This blistered cherry tomato pasta (with delicous prosciutto and asiago, of course) is everything a quick and easy pasta should be. We love how all the ingredients work together to create a wonderful textural experience. Hungry for more? Check out Our Best One-Pot Pasta Recipes Ever and Our Favorite Cozy Pasta Casseroles next.
Tomato Tart with Smoked Mozzarella and Dijon
Our take on a Southern classic is super delicious, and kind of tastes like biscuit pizza—the biscuit is flaky and buttery with a fun cornmeal texture, and the tomatoes are tender and juicy without sogging out the crust. Mixing the mayonnaise and cheese together makes things feel even more Southern. Your local farmers’ market will have the most delightfully colorful tomatoes with the best flavor, so search there. For a crispier crust, invert a rimmed baking sheet, which will circulate more air underneath it. You can also reheat this in the oven without sacrificing any taste—just wrap it in foil first.
Roasted Cauliflower & Cherry Tomato Dal
Lunch: Keep hunger pangs away with these healthy and delicious dishes! 150 calories and under. Lose weight the 5:2 way. This healthy recipe is featured in the lunch section of the new 5:2 Starter's Guide to The 2-Day Diet. The book provides a selection of over 100 tasty recipes that meet the daily 500 calorie allotment for the 2 days of intermittent fasting, as required by the 5:2 Diet.
Blistered Peppers and Tomatoes
Popping up in more grocery stores these days, shishito peppers are a mild, thin-skinned pepper that have a secret—about one in eight has a surprising kick of heat. For a milder dish, substitute mini bell peppers.
Warm Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Eggplant
Congratulations—You just found your new go-to pasta salad! This veggie-packed beauty is nice and filling, thanks to meaty eggplant. If you can’t find burrata, simply tear 6 ounces of fresh mozzarella into bite-size pieces. Heading to a potluck? Feel free to make this recipe ahead of time; just be sure to let it come to room temperature and toss with an extra drizzle of vinegar and oil before serving. Add a few tablespoons of chopped fresh basil leaves for an extra layer of flavor.
Shortcut Southern Tomato Pie
When you’re working with juicy, ripe summer tomatoes, there’s really no need for fuss. We keep it simple in this no-frills tomato pie recipe by utilizing store-bought pie crust and pimiento cheese. We found that a thick pimiento cheese, such as Palmetto brand, works best for this recipe.
Creamy Chicken-Tomato Skillet
Yes! You can make chicken and rice in 20 minutes. When a craving for comfort food hits and you need it in a hurry, this fast take on chicken and rice hits the spot. Stirring chopped baby spinach into warm brown rice is a smart way to get more vegetables and jazz up an otherwise plain starchy side. Our pro tips for speedy cooking: Cut chicken into bite-size pieces so it cooks in just a few minutes, use precooked rice and heat it in the microwave, then use the hot rice to wilt the spinach for you while you finish the chicken. Fresh thyme, chopped basil, or parsley are all good stand-ins for the rosemary. Round out the meal with a glass of sauvignon blanc.
Tomato-Herb Mini Frittatas
Transferring the bottom baking sheet to the middle rack during the last few minutes of cooking time allows the top to brown slightly.
Refrigerate this tasty tomato and ginger-flavored jam for up to 2 months.
Sheet-Pan Chicken Tikka Masala
With a little sheet pan savvy, flavor-packed chicken tikka masala has never been more accessible. While we suggest marinating the chicken for at least four hours, if you didn’t plan ahead, you can simply marinate the inherently tender chicken thighs for as long as you have time for.
Spaghetti with Shrimp and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
You can make this without the shrimp. Sauté garlic in the skillet as directed, and add the pasta water and parsley, omitting shrimp. If you omit the shrimp, also toss in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese. Roasting cherry tomatoes intensifies their flavor without a lot of fuss to make this spaghetti easy and full of flavor.
Summer Vegetable Chowder
This vegetable chowder is bursting with vibrant farmers’ market fresh flavors. Although the soup its inspired by peak season summer produce, it’s could be made year-round with frozen vegetables. The luscious texture is achieved by incorporating a roux as the thickening base, as chowders made with cream alone can often feel overly heavy and bland in flavor. We’ve also included three easy ideas for topping this summer chowder; each is a delicious addition that has this simple-to-make recipe feeling company-worthy. And thanks to the Instant Pot, it’s speedy enough to whip up at a moment’s notice.
Caprese Galette with Balsamic Reduction
The fresh summer favorite, Caprese Salad, gets a delicious and elegant makeover in this savory galette. Featuring thick slices of heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese, boosted with a fresh basil pesto and rich balsamic reduction, this stunning tart is loaded with bold, fresh flavors and makes for the perfect addition any summer gathering. And the best part is, despite its lovely presentation, this Caprese Galette is incredibly simple to pull together. If possible, try to use ripe, locally sourced tomatoes for this recipe, as they’ll generally offer fuller flavor than what you pick up at the supermarket. This galette can be served warm from the oven or at room temperature—just garnish with a few fresh basil leaves before you put it out, and get ready to rake in the compliments.
Aglio E Olio With Roasted Tomatoes
This pasta looks special, but it’s doable for a weeknight dinner if you roast and refrigerate the tomatoes in advance. You can store them in an airtight container up to two days.
Paleo Southern-Style Tomato Pie
This modern take on the traditional tomato pie starts with a gluten-free crust that is buttery, delightfully crumbly, and, even better—tastes like bacon. Anyone who’s been saving their bacon grease after weekend recent breakfasts is in luck, because now is the time to let it shine. Rendered bacon fat is easiest to work with if it has solidified after chilling in the refrigerator. Use a tablespoon measure to scoop the solidified bacon fat into a small bowl to freeze; once frozen, simply pop it out of the bowl and give it a rough chop. All of that said, feel free to use a different solid fat here, such as coconut oil, if you prefer. Enough about the crust, though. The real star of this pie is the tomato—and that’s the way it should be. Featuring homemade mayo, the filling is just richly creamy enough and just herbaceous enough to make your peak season tomatoes feel extra special. And the fact that the whole thing is Paleo-friendly is just the cherry on top! While clearly, you will want to dig into your tomato pie as soon as humanly possible (we can relate), don’t skip out on salting your tomatoes. This step is crucial to a great final product as the salt helps drain the tomatoes of excess liquid without messing up their texture. We recommend baking this tomato pie in a (9-inch) glass pie dish or light metal pie pan to prevent over-browning the crust.
Tagliatelle with Shrimp, Tomato-Anchovy Sauce, and Chiles
Garlicky tomato sauce gets an umami boost courtesy of flavor-packed anchovy fillets. Garnish with fresh basil, some sliced Fresno chile, and copious amounts of Parm for a simple yet satisfying dish.
Millet and Tomatoes
Give another grain a try. One of the most common staple grains in other parts of the world, millet (available from Bob's Red Mill) is a naturally gluten-free whole grain. Its nutty corn flavor pairs well with tart cherry tomatoes, thyme, and Parmesan in this easy side. Cooking the millet in a little butter until it's fragrant and golden is worth the extra couple minutes to bring out the toasty grain flavor. Serve with seared scallops or top with a poached egg and round out your plate with a baby kale salad.
Charred Okra-And-Tomato Masala
This fun take on okra and tomatoes is super hearty and comes together in a snap, making it a perfect weeknight meal. Plus, the rice is foolproof. If you’d like a little more protein, serve it with chicken thighs braised in the same spices and a little white wine. If you can’t find brown mustard seeds, you can use yellow ones instead.
Tomato, Basil, and Chicken Pasta
Think of this as a lighter, fresher take on chicken Parmesan: We ditch the breading on the poultry and let juicy cherry tomatoes stand in for jarred pasta sauce. A little grated carrot adds just enough sweetness to round out the acidity in the tomatoes. Mini balls of fresh mozzarella, also called ciliegine, melt just enough in the finished pasta so that the dish feels extra cheesy. This would also be delicious with cooked, crumbled Italian turkey sausage or with simply sauteed shrimp.
Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Roasted Fennel and Tomatoes
One pan, a handful of ingredients, and 30 minutes are all you need to put this impressive pork chop skillet dinner on the table. This flavor-packed, single-skillet supper is an easy dinner for two that feels like something special. It’s also an ideal recipe for one, as the leftover chop and veggies reheat well for a next-day lunch worth looking forward to.
Instant Pot Rajma Masala
Rajma Masala is a popular dish in northern India with bright and fragrant qualities. It’s very flavorful, and the depth of flavor from pairing fresh ingredients and spices creates something that’s refreshing and comforting at the same time. Adding some yogurt at the end helps thicken the dish, but the most important ingredient you can use here is good quality vegetable broth. Serve over basmati rice with ghee, extra yogurt, herbs, pickles, and lime wedges on the side.
Tomato Jam? No, it's not a typo. A delightful blend of sweet and savory, this delicious jam can be spread on biscuits, burgers, and grilled cheese sandwiches alike.
Pasta with Shrimp and Tomato Cream Sauce
Smaller tomatoes, like cherry or grape, have brighter, fruitier flavors than larger ones. Look for colorful selections such as the orange Sun Gold and the purple Black Cherry. Cherry tomatoes need only a few minutes in a hot pan before they soften and release their naturally sweet juices. For the best flavor, use fresh shrimp, not frozen, and don’t overcook them, or the shrimp will become tough. Tarragon’s anise notes complement the cherry tomatoes and cream, but you can substitute basil or oregano.