It’s that time of year again! Gloriously juicy, perfectly sweet, and stunningly beautiful tomatoes are everywhere: pouring out of crates at the farmer’s market, clustered together in gardens and planter pots, and (hopefully!) in just about every meal you eat. If you’re as gaga over late-summer tomatoes as I am, you know how spectacular the flavors can be when you choose your fruit wisely and at just the right time. And I’ll give you a hint: this is the right time. Swing by your local farmer’s market or produce stand to make sure you’re getting the best quality possible. The year-long grocery store variety often pale (literally and figuratively) in comparison.
And so, this week, in celebration of this divine little fruit, we’ll review some simple, classic preparations and uses, as well as share some new and unique tomato-centric recipes for you to take a stab at this summer.
But before we begin, let’s review some of the basics. When choosing tomatoes, go for ones that are vibrant in color and are firm, with just a little give. Avoid any wrinkly fruits, as this is a sign of age. Also, go ahead and sniff your tomatoes; they should smell sweet and woody. Odorless tomatoes will have less flavor. To store, remove tomatoes from the bag and keep them at room temperature (storing them in the refrigerator can make them mealy). Leave them unwashed until right before you enjoy them. Once ripe, tomatoes will typically last two to three days.
Below is a lovely infographic that goes over some of the basic varieties of tomatoes, and their typical flavor profiles.
To begin, here are a few of our favorite classic tomato preparations and recipes.
1. Spread a piece of toast (I like white or sourdough bread) with butter or mayonnaise, top with sliced fresh tomato, and sprinkle with sea salt. Voilà. (If you even need a recipe, here’s a good one.)
2. Make a simple salad of sliced tomatoes, torn herbs (basil or whatever you have on hand), and a drizzle of olive oil. Throw in some sliced mozzarella and you have a beautiful caprese salad.
3. Start with store-bought (or if you’re ambitious, homemade) cheese ravioli and transform it with plump cherry tomatoes and a shallot-white wine sauce. Get the recipe here.
4. Whip up some classic Pico de Gallo to enjoy with tortilla chips, atop tacos, alongside grilled fish, or mixed into salads.
5. Dot homemade focaccia bread with tiny heirloom tomatoes and fresh rosemary for a beautiful bread to serve alongside summer meals. Get the recipe here.
6. Blend tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic with high-quality extra virgin olive oil for a gorgeous, creamy gazpacho.
The Next Level
If you’re looking to shake things up, try one of these lesser-known (but equally fabulous) tomato recipes.
1. Enjoy a rustic tart of cherry tomatoes and fresh summer zucchini. See the recipe here.
2. For a sweet and savory tomato spread, try this Spicy Tomato Chutney It’s fantastic on sandwiches, and also makes a great addition to any cheese board.
3. Who needs a bowl when you can toasty, cheese-topped quinoa right out of a big, beautiful beefsteak tomato? Get the Quinoa and Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes recipe here.
4. Top store-bought pizza dough with sliced tomatoes, chunks of brie cheese, and thinly sliced red onions for a divine Tomato and Brie Flatbread.
5. Make a show-stopping panzanella (a classically Tuscan salad of vegetables and chunks of bread, which soak up the salad dressing!). This gorgeous Heirloom Tomato Panzanella is about as good as it gets.
6. Fill individual pie crusts with fresh tomatoes, sweet onion, black olives, and feta cheese for the perfect addition to your next picnic. Get the Tomato Hand Pies recipe here.
Well if I wasn’t hungry before writing this post I sure am now. Enjoy these beautiful recipes, and more importantly, enjoy those gorgeous tomatoes while they last! Hopefully we’ve inspired you to try something new, as well as return to some of the classics.
Sources: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/popular-ingredients/tomatoes-101, http://www.seattletimes.com/life/food-drink/a-guide-to-tomatoes-and-the-best-use-for-each-type/, https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/18/a7/05/18a7050aa723af3cf63f30915003e765.jpg, http://www.joyfoodly.com/?s=tomatoes