Six Recipes that Make the Most of Summer Tomatoes
There are few summer foods as emblematic as a vine-ripe tomato. We love hot tomato soups and sauces, but now is the time to enjoy raw tomatoes at their peak, simply and freshly prepared. So-called “heirloom” varieties come from seeds passed down for generations that have been bred for optimal taste and texture. They’re worlds away from commodity tomatoes, which are bred for high yield and shelf stability.
Treat yourself to a variety of heirlooms for dramatic colors on the plate and more complexity on the palate, then reach for one of the recommended pairings to bring it all together.
Refrigerating tomatoes can make them mealy. Always store them at room temperature, stem-end down. (If tomatoes have the stems on, store them stem-end up, rather than removing the stem.)
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Courtesy Michael Lomonaco, chef/owner, Porter House New York, New York City
Boiling pasta in less water than you think (about 8 cups) gives you extra-starchy pasta water that makes a richer sauce. Use the ripest tomatoes possible for this recipe.
- 3 large heirloom tomatoes, peeled* and chopped
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 12 ounces dried penne pasta
- 10 large basil leaves, torn
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese
- Fresh-ground pepper
In large serving bowl, combine tomatoes, olive oil and red pepper flakes. Cook pasta in well-salted water according to package directions. When done, reserve one cup of pasta water, and drain pasta.
Pour hot pasta in bowl with tomatoes, add half reserved pasta water, and mix well. If pasta seems dry, add more pasta water to achieve desired sauce consistency.
Just before serving, toss in basil, pine nuts and cheese. Add salt and fresh-ground pepper, to taste. Serves 4.
*Cut a small, shallow “X” in base of each tomato. Place in boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer to bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel skin away starting at “X.”
The classic version, which is hard to beat, is perfect tomatoes sprinkled with coarse salt on toasted whole-grain bread slathered with mayonnaise. To jazz it up, swap out mayo for spreadable Gorgonzola dolce or Saint-André cheese, or add one of the following: olive tapenade, fresh basil, soft-boiled eggs or, of course, bacon.
Pair with a rich rosé, like Alain Jaume et Fils 2018 Le Crétacé (Tavel).
Courtesy Elena Reygadas, chef/owner, Rosetta, Mexico City
This recipe features fresh peak-season tomatoes two ways. At her restaurant in Mexico City, Elena Reygadas usually makes this dish with lopón, or Pacific rockfish, from Baja California. Snapper or striped bass work equally well.
- 1 medium heirloom tomato
- 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
- 10 ounces cherry tomatoes or other small tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons minced chives or green onions
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 6 ½-inch-thick slices baguette
- 1 large clove garlic, halved
- 5 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced ½-inch thick
- 4 skin-on fillets of Pacific rockfish, striped bass or red snapper, about 6 ounces each
Heat oven to 375˚F.
Cut heirloom tomato in half and grate flesh on the large holes of a box grater, discarding skin. Stir in lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Halve cherry tomatoes. In large bowl, combine with chives, vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Lightly toast bread in oven. Rub each slice with garlic and brush both sides with olive oil. Cut into rough cubes and add to cherry tomatoes.
As bread toasts, crisp chorizo on both sides in nonstick skillet. Cut each slice into quarters and add to cherry tomato mixture.
Pat fish dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat with oil. Add fish, skin side down, and cook until skin is brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until fish is cooked through, about 3 minutes.
To serve, divide tomato-bread mixture among plates, top with fish, and garnish with tomato sauce. Serves 4.
Make a simplified Greek salad by topping thick-sliced tomatoes with sliced cucumbers, pitted olives and tons of the best feta you can find. Or, kick up a Caprese salad by layering basil, sliced tomatoes in varying sizes and colors and burrata.
Pair with a bright, herbal Sauvignon Blanc, like Nautilus 2019 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough).
Chop 1 pound tomatoes and combine with ½ cup chopped cucumber, ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper and ¼ cup chopped shallot in blender with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, juice of ½ lime and few leaves basil, tarragon and/or parsley. Blend to coarse or smooth purée, depending on preference. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil, if you like.
Pair with a crisp Albariño, like Adega Mãe 2018 Alvarinho (Lisboa).
Adapted from Carpathia: Food from the Heart of Romania (Interlink Books, 2020) by Irina Georgescu
Bring 4 cups sugar and 1¼ cups water to a boil. Add 2 pounds chopped green tomatoes or husked, blanched tomatillos, juice of 2 lemons and 4 star anise. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until tomatoes get mushy. Add 1½ cups walnuts and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Continue simmering until mixture is thick but not dry, about 5–10 minutes. Transfer to sterilized jars or keep in fridge for 1 week. Serve with cheese or, Romanian style, with crepes.
Pair with a sweet Romanian wine, like Secolul 13 2013 Late Harvest Muscat Ottonel (Huşi).
- 1Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil
- 2Tomato Sandwich Ideas
- 3Rockfish with Tomatoes and Chorizo
- 4Tomato Salad Inspiration
- 6Dulceaţă de Gogonele (Green Tomato Jam)