29 Heirloom Tomato Recipes That Prove These Fancy 'Maters Really Are Worth It
Heirloom tomatoes are tomato varieties grown for their irreplaceable flavor, rather than supermarket readiness. The seeds are passed down from season to season, and are often open-pollinated and non-hybrid. As many home gardeners are well aware, heirloom tomatoes can be trickier to grow, as they are less disease-resistant and just more fussy in general. The extra work is well worth it, however, as heirloom tomato plants yield fruits that are generally sweeter than supermarket tomatoes and come in a wide variety of colors and shapes. Whether you plan to grow some heirlooms of your own, or just take advantage of the Saturday farmers' market bounty, this collection of heirloom tomato recipes showcases the amazing flavors and colors that these summer wonders have to offer.
Grown-Up Pasta Salad
You know that pasta salad from childhood (you know the one—rotini, canned olives, underripe grape tomatoes, cubed cheese)? It showed up at cookouts, sleepovers and every occasion in between, and it holds a special place in hearts a plenty—or at least it does around our office. So, we made a few swaps to create a fully grown uptake that still hits all the nostalgic notes we crave. Think a more sophisticated nood (we went orecchiette, but you can go with whatever you like!), buttery Castelvatrano olives (i.e. the best olives), juicy-sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes for dynamic color, hunks of savory salami, rich and creamy mozzarella pearls, radishes for fresh crunch, and an easy, from-scratch Italian dressing. Sure, it may require a trip to the grocery store’s olive bar, but trust us, it’s so worth it.
Instant Pot Ratatouille
Our Instant Pot Ratatouille certainly looks like it requires a lot of hard work to make, but the real beauty of this recipe is that it couldn’t be easier. Plus, this speedy take on the classic French dish just happens to be one of the most perfect ways we can imagine to enjoy late summer produce. The Instant Pot method yields vegetables that are tender, but maintain the right amount of body to keep the dish from feeling overcooked or soggy. Serve your Instant Pot Ratatouille with crusty baguette or cooked pasta for a veggie-forward main dish, or enjoy it as a comforting side dish for roasted chicken or grilled fish.
Mixed Herb-and-Tomato Salad
Make this simple yet memorable tomato salad in the height of summer, when tomatoes and fresh herbs abound. It doesn’t matter what variety of tomatoes you use, or the type of herbs (choose soft herbs, not woody ones like rosemary or thyme) as long as you mix them up—any combination will look beautiful and taste great. Be sure to let the tomatoes stand for at least 10 minutes, to allow them to marinate in the dressing and fully release their juices into the vinaigrette. Serve the salad at room temperature alongside burgers, grilled chicken, or even a simple piece of fish. It also makes a colorful (and portable!) addition to a summer potluck or cookout.
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.
Field Pea-Tomato Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
This gorgeous summer salad showcases peak-season tomatoes, fresh herbs, and lady peas, which remain creamy white or light green even after they have been cooked. A tangy vinaigrette brings all of these ingredients together to make one tasty dish. This salad is best served at room temperature immediately after it has been made, but you can cook the field peas in advance and store them in the refrigerator.
Mini Tomato Sandwiches With Bacon Mayonnaise
One of the season’s simplest and most iconic pleasures, the beloved BLT, can also double as an effortless appetizer. The quality of your tomatoes will make or break this simple sandwich. We like the color contrast of red and yellow heirloom tomatoes, but choose whichever large tomato is ripest. These little sandwiches are perfect for outdoor picnics or brunch with the ladies.
You might call this a user-friendly, quick and easy salad recipe, since you can adjust the ingredients according to what you have. Increase the tomatoes and decrease the watermelon, or visa versa, if necessary. Handle the cut melon gently and as little as possible so it doesn’t loose too much liquid. All the ingredients can be prepped in advance, but toss the salad together right before serving; the melon and tomato start watering out the minute the salt is applied. You can use navel oranges if satsumas are not available.
Turnip Green Salad
If you think turnip greens are only edible if they are simmered in a pot of liquid and seasoned with a ham hock, check out this recipe. This summer salad makes delicious use of abundant produce such as fresh turnip greens, heirloom grape tomatoes, and colorful watermelon radishes. Ideal as a side dish for a summer cookout, the hearty greens and cauliflower lend enough bulk to make this salad a main dish. Feel free to add other summer vegetables to the recipe, such as chopped zucchini, yellow squash, or cucumbers. We've topped this salad with Green Goddess Dressing for even more flavor.
Triple Tomato Salad with Crispy Farro
Our salad update is a spectacular platter of tomatoes treated in all the ways that make the most of their flavor: pickled, roasted, and left raw. It does involve a few steps, but you can fry the farro and pickle the green tomatoes a few days in advance to get ahead.
Grilled Lamb and Feta Pita Sandwiches
Your favorite Mediterranean takeout just got a wholesome makeover. We mixed in lean ground sirloin with the lamb for a lighter patty; lemon and cumin keep the flavor bright and bold. Be sure to let the cucumber dry before stirring it into the yogurt to keep the sauce nice and creamy. Double up on this easy recipe, set out a bowl of your favorite hummus with veggies, and your next backyard party is ready to go.
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.
Smoked Tempeh Blt
Earlier this year, the Whole Foods vegan BLT hit the shelves and people started going nuts for it. We decided to make our own version so that you can make it at home, for less. It's the perfect sandwich if you love the flavor of smoked food but want to keep your meal meatless. To make the smoked tempeh, you’ll need a disposable foil pan plus some small wood chips. Look for small wood chips labeled specifically as “smoking chips” at some supermarkets and most hardware stores near the grilling supplies. For the best tomato flavor, go for a perfectly ripe heirloom tomato. Serve with roasted (or air-fried) potato wedges or sweet potato fries.
Grilled Beef-Mushroom Burgers
Blending finely chopped mushrooms with ground beef adds great flavor, moisture, and even fiber to these no-bun burgers. Garlicky cucumber-yogurt sauce is tasty Middle Eastern–inspired alternative to standard ketchup and mustard. Served with a juicy slice of fresh tomato and crisp butter lettuce, these burgers are naturally gluten-free. Double the greens and tomato and call it a burger salad. If you're in the mood for bun, try these tucked into warm whole-wheat pitas instead.
Ultimate Grilled Tomato Sandwiches
Toasty bread, juicy tomatoes, melty cheese, and smoky bacon—what’s not to love? These decadent grilled sandwiches are the perfect place to put your ripe summer tomatoes, and pair beautifully with a light, refreshing summer soup. While you could certainly prepare them in a skillet on the stove, going to the grill takes these superb summer sandwiches to the next level.
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Chicken and Couscous
Not only does this vibrant salad taste like summer on a plate, but it’s also a fantastic make-ahead recipe that doesn’t require heating up the kitchen. While this is certainly not a meal that will weigh you down, store-bought rotisserie chicken makes the tomato salad hearty enough to serve as a satisfying entree. Soaking the couscous is a genius trick that yields a perfect fluffy texture—no cooking necessary. Plus, the overnight soaking means your couscous will be chilled and ready to go when you’re ready to assemble the salad. Plan ahead to take advantage of this savvy meal prep move.
Panzanella Caprese Stack
This panzanella-meets-caprese stack makes for an impressive appetizer salad for two or can be enjoyed as a lovely summer lunch for one. Layering the stack with the dressing in between each delicious layer allows every component of the stack to get well coated, as the elements of a tossed salad would. Add extra cucumber and red onion (and cheese) as desired to create your perfect tower of tomato goodness. You’ll probably want to eat this composed salad with a fork and knife… and a heavy handful of napkins.
Grilled Zucchini with Tomatoes and Mint
Mint is often relegated to dessert, but its bright, fresh flavor is also fantastic in savory dishes and salads. It grows prolifically in the South and is in season at the same time as tomatoes and zucchini, lending credence to the expression "What grows together goes together."
Cold Fried-Chicken-Salad Sandwiches
These delicious sandwiches are the perfect way to use up leftover fried chicken. Coat the crunchy chicken with homemade mayonnaise-mustard dressing and serve with a fresh heirloom slice and fresh lettuce atop a brioche bun.
Tomato Gratin Lasagna
This is a fresh, summery take on lasagna. We call for seeding one-third of the tomatoes to get just the right amount of juiciness.
Silky Tomato-Basil Soup with Fresh Corn
Silken tofu stands in for traditional heavy cream, lending rich body and a hit of quality protein.
This cool and refreshing summer sipper perfectly pairs sweet watermelon and mild cucumber with their more acidic fruit cousin, the heirloom tomato. Sliced jalapeno adds a hint of spice.
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.
Corn, Tomato, and Basil Salad
While corn and tomatoes are at their peak later in the summer, you can enjoy this simple salad all season long. White miso--the kind that's lowest in sodium--adds a powerful umami punch to the mix, enhancing the meaty flavor that tomatoes and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese provide. Salting the tomatoes and letting them stand draws out their juices so they'll meld with the dressing when you combine all the components.
California Steak Salad
This salad is ideal for cold grilled steak, as reheating may overcook the meat or cause the basil and arugula to wilt. Grilling the red onion adds another layer of char and a bit of sweetness to counter the tartness of the vinaigrette.
Heirloom Tomatoes with Charred Okra, Vidalias, and Malt Mayo
Malt vinegar has a mid-palate weight that pairs nicely with the acidic tomatoes, crispy okra, and sweet onion.
Zesty Heirloom Gazpacho
Green tomato adds nice tang to the mix. White wine vinegar works in place of sherry. Chilled bowls will keep the soup extra refreshing.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Tomato-Basil Salad
This summery riff on saltimbocca is simplicity itself, with big flavor hits provided by prosciutto and heirloom tomatoes. Fragrant shallots, grated to a pulp, serve as a marinade for the chicken, yielding delicious results. Summer tomatoes have a beefiness and richness unlike those harvested any other time of year. They stand up well to robust chicken thighs and salty prosciutto. You can also try this recipe using a standard white fish such as cod or halibut and adjust the cooking time depending on the choice of protein.
Italian Country-Style Grilled Shrimp
Grilled shrimp gives this recipe a smokey, down-home flavor while the oregano, olive oil, and kalamata olives provide a sultry Italian flair.
Serve this fresh summer salad with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the flavorful tomato juices.