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.
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.
Easy Gazpacho Recipe (smooth or chunky)
Caprese Appetizers (on mini skewers)
Tomato Tart with Puff Pastry
Broiled Cherry Tomatoes with Cheese and Panko Crumbs Recipe
Tomato and Onion Salad
Panzanella Salad Recipe with Peaches
Corn and Tomato Salad
Pizza with Tomatoes
How To Grill Pizza
Cherry Tomato Sauce (spicy Moroccan-style)
Pasta Dishes with Fresh Tomatoes
Healthy Pesto Pasta With Vegetables
Fresh Tomato Pasta with Lemon and Olives
Vegetable Spaghetti Squash Recipe (Mexican-style)
Main Dishes with Tomatoes
Baked Fish Fillets with Cherry Tomato Sauce
Easy Eggplant Parmesan (30 minutes)
Warm Salmon Salad with Tomato Citrus Sauce Recipe
Roasted Halibut with Tomatoes and Capers
Creamy Polenta with Tomato Herb Salad
Panzanella Salad Recipe with Grilled Chicken
Best canned tomato recipes
These recipes use good canned tomatoes like San Marzano.
Simple San Marzano Tomato Sauce
Easy Tomato Soup with Canned Tomatoes
Hope you found a recipe or two you like for what to do with tomatoes. When they are ripe and fragrant, they are a wonderful star of the dish in sauces, salads, appetizers, gazpacho and more.
And don’t count out canned tomatoes – just as nutrition and picked at their peak.