Tomatoes are peaking--eat them now while they are in season!Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
Oven-baked red, white and blue garden veggies. Simply layered, sliced blue potatoes, white onions and red tomatoes--drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper--bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until potatoes are tender.
White bean and pasta salad with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, onions, garlic, black olives, basil and parsley, dressed with a little balsamic and olive oil. yum!
It is the end of August and we are at the peak for summer tomatoes. Here are 15 ways to eat tomatoes (hum this to the tune of “50 ways to leave your lover” as you harvest). These are some of my favorite ways of enjoying tomatoes, although the combinations are infinite.
Just remember to harvest tomatoes at the ripest stage possible; if you pick them a little early, allow them to ripen–I do this on my picnic table on the backporch where I can turn them everyday and keep an eye on them. The exception to this rule is choosing green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes. I like mine not rock-hard green, showing some orange blush and having just a little give.
1. Eat cherry tomatoes sun-warmed right from the vine in the garden.
2. Pick a dead-ripe tomato from the vine and eat it like an apple, letting the juice run down your chin and hand.
3. Find the juiciest, most succulent tomato, slice it, and put it between two slices of wholesome, crusty bread smeared with good-quality mayonnaise, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. /item/6314/the-tomato-sandwich-summers-ultimate-food
4. Slice a plateful of tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Scatter some fresh herbs over the tomatoes and drizzle just a bit of extra-virgin olive oil overall. Although basil is the tomato herb of choice, many others are quite delicious. Try minced tarragon, thyme, oregano, marjoram, dill, cilantro, fennel or even mint.
5. Chop tomatoes and add a few cloves of minced garlic, a large handful of chopped basil leaves, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss with al dente pasta and serve hot or at room temperature; add alittle fresh grated parmigniano if desired.
6. Use the combo above and instead of pasta, rub some toasted bread with garlic to make bruschetta. Pile the seasoned tomatoes onto the toast and eat immediately.
7. Make a summer Greek salad by layering sliced cucumbers with tomatoes, sliced feta and Kalamata olives drizzled with olive oil and garnished with some fresh chopped oregano.
8. Of course, we cannot forget the popular Caprese salad: stack or alternate slices of tomato, fresh mozzerella and whole basil leaves; drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
9. Summer salsa is a staple at my house. Hand mince tomatoes, onion, garlic, chile peppers and toss them together with fresh minced cilantro leaves, fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt. I also make this in large quantities and can it. /item/9647/quick-and-easy-homemade-salsa
10. Make gazpacho by combining tomatoes, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and perhaps a chile pepper and process in a food processor until it is a thick puree, leaving some bits in it. Season with basil or marjoram, salt and pepper, lemon juice or a splash of red wine vinegar and refrigerate. Serve at cool room temperature with homemade garlic croutons. /item/12611/garden-gazpacho
11. To make baked tomatoes, slice the top off removing the core. Mix some fine, wholegrain breadcrumbs with some chopped herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper and a bit of grated parmesan, asiago, or even cheddar cheese. Top the tomatoes with the mixture and bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve hot or at room temperature.
12. Using fresh pizza dough, or a pre-baked shell, spread the top with about 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil with 2 cloves minced or pressed garlic. Cook the dough on a hot grill (covered) or in the oven (About 450 degrees) until heated through. Spread a layer of basil leaves or pesto over the pizza and cover with thin slices of tomato, season with salt and pepper. Cook until heated through. Garnish with grated cheese and heat until melted. Let sit 5 minutes, then cut and serve immediately.
13. For my family’s corn and tomatoes, cut corn from four large ears. Saute the corn in butter over medium low heat while you fine dice two large tomatoes. Add them to the corn, season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Serve hot.
14. My latest pasta salad started with cooked fava beans (or use cannellini or butter beans) which I tossed with diced a lot of tomatoes, onion, garlic and olives; let them sit while the pasta cooks. For a change from whole-wheat noodles, I sometimes use colored vegetable pastas or brown rice pasta. Cook them until al dente and toss the pasta in the bean and tomato mixture, drizzling with a little more olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, adding chopped parsley and basil and perhaps a handful of parmesan. Enjoy at room temperature.
15. Last yet not least, to make fried green tomatoes, slice them about 1-inch thick, dip them in beaten egg and dip them in a mixture of about 2 parts cornmeal, 1 part whole-wheat flour, salt and pepper and a few pinches of sugar and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Fry in hot oil intil golden brown, turn and fry the other side. Drain on paper towels and eat immediately. /item/9979/fried-green-tomatoes
Get out there and pick some tomatoes and get creative–enjoy them while they are in season!
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