Got fresh tomatoes? We’ve got recipes. Here are our top fresh tomato recipes to take advantage of those juicy, ripe beauties.
Tomato season is one of our favorite times of year. With their sweet savory nuanced flavor, all you need is a few simple ingredients to make them taste extraordinary. When it’s tomato season, we make all the fresh tomato recipes! Because it’s only a period of months, Alex and I take every opportunity we get, making tomato salads, caprese salad, BLTs, pasta, pico de gallo, salsa: everything we can think to enjoy all that summer has to offer.
Here we’ve collected our 15 best fresh tomato recipes for the season: and we know you’re going to love them. Here are our 15 favorite ways to use fresh tomatoes.
At the top of all tomato recipes: blistered cherry tomato pasta! This easy dinner idea stars blistered tomatoes, a technique of cooking tomatoes in a hot pan until the skin blisters and blackens. Mix the tomatoes with tangy balsamic vinegar, then add al dente pasta and peppery fresh basil. You’ll be amazed at the amount of flavor these classic summer ingredients infuse in 20 minutes. Use it to impress guests, or as a fast and easy dinner that’s over-the-top tasty.
Hold onto your hats: here’s your new best fresh tomato recipe. Tomato pie! This one so flavor-packed, it might be the best on the internet. A bold claim, but hear us out. There’s the flaky pastry crust, buttery and scented with thyme. There’s a gooey, cheesy filling: intensely savory from a little mayo and Dijon mustard, mixed with two cheeses. And the best part: two layers of juicy, beautiful ripe summer tomatoes. Heck, we think it’s pretty darn perfect.
It might be simple, but this is one of the best fresh tomato recipes there is. Though it’s easy to make, it’s truly one of the greatest taste treats known to man. The mozzarella tomato basil salad is a thing of glory, when the summer tomatoes are the juiciest and the summer basil is bushy and prolific. Hailing from Capri, Italy, it’s the dish of the season. Eat it as a side dish for entertaining, or with two forks, eating off the same plate and exclaiming “Wow!” every few seconds or so.
What is the best salsa recipe? Meet this salsa fresca, a “fresh salsa” made with ripe, juicy tomatoes. If you have access to some legit good fresh tomatoes, we recommend you consider making up a batch stat. It’s super tangy from the lime, a little sweet from the tomato, and has a back-end heat from the jalapeño. Yes, it’s everything you’d want in a fresh salsa recipe!
This fresh tomato salad might sound simple, but it's utterly divine. It’s all about simplicity: just tomatoes and fresh basil, marinaded in balsamic and olive oil for 30 minutes. And once you taste it: it’s truly one of the best fresh tomato recipes you’ll find. It almost brought tears to our eyes. And that’s just the kind of fresh tomato recipe you need.
Got tomatoes? Let’s make pico! There’s something so carefree about pico de gallo. Perhaps because it conjures up images of shoveling loads of fresh pico into our mouths while watching the waves the beach in Mexico. Whatever the case, if you’ve got ripe tomatoes, pico is the perfect place to start. Use it as a salsa with tortilla chips, use it on top of grilled or broiled salmon, or of course, throw it into a taco.
We’re smack in the midst of tomato season, and what better way to use them than in a classic pasta recipe? This tomato basil pasta is covered in a balsamic sauce, peppered with Parmesan and dotted with torn basil. It uses normal ingredients from your pantry, but in ways you might never have tried them. And it only takes 20 minutes to make. Got tomatoes? Got basil? We’ve got your pasta. It's one of our top fresh tomato recipes...ever.
Here’s a tomato recipe for when the mornings are hot and the farmers markets are stuffed to the brim with tomatoes: Blistered Tomatoes! This trick takes just 5 minutes and elevates cherry tomatoes to a decadent, sweet and savory treat. Cooking tomatoes in a blazing hot skillet chars the outsides and make the interior juicy and tender. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar at the end adds a sweet tart tang. You can use these blistered tomatoes in so many ways: as an appetizer, in a simple pasta, or over grilled fish for a stunning summer dinner.
Ready for one of the best taste treats on the planet? Burrata cheese. Burrata is a revelation: gooey, fresh mozzarella that’s hiding a secret: an even gooier, creamier interior. Once you taste this, you’ll be forever a burrata aficionado. Even better: you barely need to make a recipe to eat it. Here’s the best way to serve burrata: with fresh summer tomatoes, herbs, olive oil, and sea salt. The Italians are all about the perfection of simplicity: so it’s only fitting that they’re the ones behind this idea.
This grilled cheese with tomatoes & basil isn’t just any old grilled cheese. The fresh cherry tomatoes are roasted just long enough until they’re starting to burst. Then you’ll mash them to extract the juice and mix that into mayo for a killer sauce. It becomes a sort of roasted tomato mayonnaise and totally makes the sandwich! Then of course, you’ll add to that the peppery bite of fresh basil. Oh. my.
Ready for an insanely good homemade pizza recipe? This fresh tomato recipe is a classic pizza with a twist: artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, and peppery basil on our famous thin crust pizza dough. It’s so, so delicious and it tastes just as good as this picture makes it look.
Need a tomato recipe for when summer tomatoes are at their peak? Here’s our pick for you: this cucumber tomato avocado salad! This one is all about the ingredients: ripe and juicy tomatoes, cool cucumbers, and creamy avocado. They’re mixed with lime juice and cilantro for a tangy pop that perfectly accentuates their flavors. This one is great as a side dish for any meal; it specifically jives well with Mexican flavors with the lime and cilantro.
After a recent trip to Santorini, Greece — there couldn’t be a better inspiration to take home than the ubiquitous Greek salad. In the hot Grecian sun, there’s not much that tastes more refreshing than the combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, Kalamata olives, and salty feta. This is one of our top fresh tomato recipes because it's so packed with flavor and easy to make.
This incredible eggplant and tomato sandwich was inspired by a trip to the Mediterranean. It features juicy fresh tomatoes alongside smoky grilled eggplant, creamy fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, and our secret ingredient: olive spread. This stacked sandwich looks impressive without the fuss, which makes it a great option for concerts in the park and beach blanket picnics.
Here's a fresh tomato recipe that's actually...baked! This upside down cornbread is inverted after baking to show a lovely tomato design. For our concept, we’ve added fresh sage leaves as another detail and flavor component. And at the end, we decided to top the cornbread with grated Parmesan cheese and broil it until crispy. The colors are stunning and it's perfectly moist.
How to find the best tomatoes
For all of these recipes, you’ll need the following: ripe, in season tomatoes! Do not even think about using off-season, mealy pink tomatoes. The flavor here is 100% dependent on the quality of your tomato! Here are a few pointers on finding the best tomatoes.
Buy local tomatoes if possible. Bonus points if if you grew them yourself! Buying local tomatoes helps support your local farmers.
Look for heirloom tomatoes. Try using heirloom tomatoes if you can find them. Heirloom tomatoes are a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family by saving the seeds. You’ll notice that their color and shape are much more varied than the typical round red tomato. They can vary from chartreuse to gold to purple to orange, from small and round to large and squat.
Hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes have good flavor. If you can’t find local tomatoes, look at your grocery for hydroponic tomatoes grown in a greenhouse. They usually have good flavor.
How to tell if a tomato is ripe
How can you tell if a tomato is ripe? There is actually some contention around the right way of how to tell if a tomato is ripe. According to The Washington Post, squeezing tomatoes can actually damage them! To avoid damaging the tomato, especially ones from your local small farmers at the farmers market, do the following:
Smell it. The tomato should give off a sweet, earthy smell.
Hold it. Hold it in your hand: a ripe tomato should feel heavy for its size.
1 handful fresh small basil leaves, chopped if large
Make the pasta: Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just al dente. Start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes. Before draining, reserve some pasta water with a liquid measuring cup (at least 1/4 cup). Drain the pasta.
Blister the tomatoes: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a very large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add the tomatoes, making sure there is space around each tomato (they are not touching) and the pan is not crowded. If you’re using a medium pan, cook the tomatoes in 2 batches.* Cook for 1 minute without touching the pan, then 2 to 3 more minutes until blistered, shaking the pan several times to rotate the tomatoes. Turn off the heat and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar, gently shaking several times to coat. Add 2 pinches kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Remove the tomatoes from the pan to a bowl.
Finish the dish: Mince the garlic. Once the pasta is done, in the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup pasta water, scraping the pan with a spoon to release all of the flavor of the tomato juices. Turn off the heat.
Add the pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Add the blistered tomatoes, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and basil. Season with 2 pinches of kosher salt and lots of fresh ground pepper. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve with the remaining 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
*If the pan is too crowded, the tomatoes will steam instead of blistering. It all depends on the size of your pan: if you’re using a medium pan, you’ll have to cook 1 pint at a time.
Keywords: Tomato recipes, Fresh tomato recipes
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Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.