What To Do With Tomatoes (19 Recipes and Tips 2022)

Fragrant, sweet, juicy tomatoes bursting with flavor are the best! What to do with tomatoes? We have lots of great recipe ideas and tomato tips.

Check out our favorite ways to use tomatoes in appetizers, sauces, salads, pastas, pizzas and main dishes

fresh tomato salad in white bowl

Tomatoes are one of our favorite things about summer. We're focusing on fresh tomato recipes, but we also included a couple of popular recipes that make good use of quality canned tomatoes.

But first things first...

Tomato varieties and how to use them

There are endless varieties of tomatoes - in fact 300 varieties grown in Ontario Canada alone. Here are a few of the popular varieties that are widely available in your local farmers market or grocery store.

Beefsteak or Field Tomatoes: Mild flavor. Great for salads, salsas, BLTs, chicken burgers or veggie burgers. Not great for cooking in sauces as they have excess water content and take a long time to boil down.

Plum or Roma Tomatoes: Great for sauces like our San Marzano sauce as they are pulpier, have fewer seeds and boil down quickly.

Heirloom Tomatoes: (my fave): Great texture and flavor. Use in salads, sandwiches and non sauce dishes.

Cherry Tomatoes: Great for snacks and salads and appetizers. Sweet and thin skinned. Sweet cherry tomatoes come in many different colors and can also be used in sauces as they cook down pretty quickly. We have 7 recipes on what to do with cherry tomatoes!

How to choose the best tomatoes

  • Color, ideally, should be deep red when ripe (place on the counter to ripen if not fully ripe). Choose tomatoes that are free of blemishes and bruises.
  • Look for vine-ripened tomatoes to avoid being fooled by artificially ripened ones that are often bland and tasteless.
  • Smell the stem of the tomato. It should smell fragrant and earthy.

Best ways to store them

Most of these tips come from Harold McGee, a food science expert in a post by Epicurious on how to store tomatoes the right way

Not yet ripe: If your tomatoes are not quite ripe, leave them on the counter for a few days. Lay them in a single layer, stem side down.

Ripe tomatoes: It's best to use ripe tomatoes right away or store them in a cool place like a cellar at 55F/12.8C. If these options are not possible, Harold says to put them in the fridge but let them come to room temperature before you use them.

Overripe tomatoes: If your tomatoes are overripe, use them to make a sauce.

The bottom line is a fridge is not your tomato's friend. Keep them out.

Not in season?

Although tomatoes are now grown hydroponically for year round availability, the off season ones are still not up to par with local seasonal tomatoes. For some recipes, it would be best to consider good canned tomatoes instead (which by the way are equally or more nutritious).

Best Fresh Tomato Recipes

Fresh tomatoes play a starring role in all the recipes below.

When summer tomatoes are at their peak, I love a no-fuss tomato sandwich with toasted buttered bread, thick tomato slices and some kosher salt. Or a simple tomato salad with fresh herbs, a little olive oil and sprinkle of salt and black pepper - and maybe a splash of balsamic vinegar. The best!

Here are lots of other ideas to use up those beautiful tomatoes. Don't let the end of summer go by without trying a few of these easy tomato recipes.

Tomato Appetizers

Easy Gazpacho Recipe (smooth or chunky)

3 fancy glasses gazpacho and pitcher beside it
This healthy, easy gazpacho recipe screams summer freshness. It's loaded with fresh veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and jalapeno. And it satisfies those who prefer their gazpacho smooth or chunky. Spoon it or sip it.
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Caprese Appetizers

mini caprese appetizers on toothpicks on wood board
We boost the flavor of these little caprese appetizers (made with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and tomatoes) by a marinade and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
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Tomato Tart with Puff Pastry

cut up Tomato Tart Puff Pastry appetizers
This casual, rustic tomato tart with puff pastry is a simple, tasty appetizer for a casual dinner party or a light lunch served with a salad and a glass of wine. When tomatoes are at their peak, the tart is amazing. But it still works beautifully when they're not due to the vinaigrette dressing that brightens them with herbs, garlic and capers.
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Broiled Cherry Tomatoes with Cheese and Panko Crumbs Recipe

plate of cheesy broiled tomatoes
Bubbly cheese, a crunchy Panko topping and a caper tang are the essence of these Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes. A tasty summer side dish or appetizer.
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Tomato Salads

Tomato and Onion Salad

tomato onion salad in dressing in a black bowl
This sweet, tangy Marinated Tomato Salad with homemade Catalina dressing creates a colorful bright salad even when tomatoes are not at their best.
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Panzanella Salad Recipe with Peaches

panzanella salad with peaches in white bowl
This panzanella salad recipe with peaches is a simple tuscan bread salad that celebrates fresh summer peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers and basil. Great side dish.
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Corn and Tomato Salad

corn tomato and quinoa salad on glass plate
Don't let summer end without a sweet fresh corn and tomato salad. Add quinoa to make it a satisfying vegetarian main dish. Easy, quick and versatile with whatever you have on hand. 
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Pizza with Tomatoes

How To Grill Pizza

piece of grilled pizza with tomato topping
When you know how to grill a pizza and you have a fresh or store-bought pizza dough on hand, an amazing grilled pizza is only minutes away - any way you like it. We've included a yummy roasted garlic tomato topping with fresh cherry tomatoes on our semi homemade pizza.
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Tomato Sauce

Spicy Cherry Tomato Sauce

cherry tomato sauce in skillet
Sweet cherry garden tomatoes and Moroccan spices come together in 20 minutes to make a rich, rustic, spicy cherry tomato sauce that you just want to put on everything!
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Pasta Dishes with Fresh Tomatoes

Healthy Pesto Pasta With Vegetables

pesto pasta with veggies in bowl with tomatoes beside it
Pesto pasta with vegetables is a simple, healthy side or main dish made with pasta, pesto, spinach, green beans and fresh cherry tomatoes. This delicious pasta salad is packed with flavor and ready in 20 minutes.
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Fresh Tomato Pasta with Lemon and Olives

bowl of fresh tomato and olive pasta
Fresh tomato pasta with lemon and olives is a beautiful blend of sweet summer-ripe tomatoes, lemon-basil zing, salty olives, capers and Parmesan. It's a great summery pasta dish.
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Vegetable Spaghetti Squash Recipe (Mexican-style)

spaghetti squash with mexican veggie topping
This is a vegetable spaghetti squash recipe with bold Mexican flavors. We top the 'spaghetti' with a rich sauce of beans, onions, tomatoes, red peppers, corn, salsa, spices and cheese for a great weeknight meal. Serve with tortilla chips. Ok, this is not a real pasta dish, but tastes like one!
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Main Dishes with Tomatoes

Baked Fish Fillets with Cherry Tomato Sauce

cherry tomato sauce over white fish fillets
A mildly spicy, citrusy cherry tomato sauce with just a few ingredients turns baked fish fillets into a delicious jazzed up dinner in about 20 minutes.
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Easy Eggplant Parmesan (30 minutes)

piece of eggplant parmesan on plate
This easy Eggplant Parmesan recipe has no breading, no frying and no pre-salting. It's unfussy, healthy and simply delicious. Good shortcuts cut the time down to 30 minutes.
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Warm Salmon Salad with Tomato Citrus Sauce Recipe

warm tomato salmon with citrus over spinach
This rustic Warm Salmon Salad with Spicy Tomato Citrus Sauce served on a bed of greens, quinoa and asparagus makes a healthy, delicious, fresh spring/summer meal.
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Roasted Halibut with Tomatoes and Capers

halibut with tomatoes and capers over spinach on plate
Serve guests to impress or an easy weeknight dinner with this simple but scrumptious Roasted Halibut with Tomatoes and Capers - in less than 20 minutes.
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Creamy Polenta with Tomato Herb Salad

polenta topped with tomato salad on plate
Creamy Polenta topped with a robust tomato herb salad and parmesan cheese makes a fabulous lunch or side. Summer comfort food! Feel free to use canned tomatoes for this recipe if you like.
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Panzanella Salad Recipe with Grilled Chicken

chicken panzanella salad in white bowl
We're grilling crusty bread, chicken and peppers for this Panzanella salad recipe. Then combining them with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, herbs and a zesty dressing to create a beautiful tasty bread salad. What a perfect spring/summer meal or potluck dish.
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Best canned tomato recipes

These recipes use good canned tomatoes like San Marzano.

Simple San Marzano Tomato Sauce

ladel full of san marzano tomato sauce over a pot
Italian cooking is all about good quality, fresh ingredients. Choosing San Marzano tomatoes will bring your tomato pasta sauce to a whole new level.
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Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons

two bowls of tomato soup with crouton sticks
Remember Campbell's tomato soup with saltine crackers for dunking? Well, we promise this homemade tomato soup with Parmesan croutons is a way better version. Classic comfort food.
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