Tomato season is finally here. Fragrant, sweet tomatoes bursting with flavor – the best! We’ve pulled together some delicious fresh tomato recipes along with a few tomato tips.
When tomatoes are at their peak, I love a no-fuss tomato sandwich with toasted buttered bread, a thick slab of tomato and some kosher salt. Or a simple tomato salad with fresh basil, a drizzle of good olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper. Simple and easy.
I also love to make fresh tomato recipes using summer-ripe tomatoes. We’re sharing 9 recipes below – many vegetarian – salads, appetizers, a fresh sauce and several main dishes.
But first things first…about those fresh tomatoes…
There are endless varieties of tomatoes – in fact 300 varieties grown in Ontario alone. Here are a few of the popular varieties that are widely available.
Beefsteak/Field Tomatoes: Mild flavor. Great for salads, salsas, BLTs, hamburgers or veggie burgers. Not great for cooking in sauces as they have a high water content and take a long time to boil down.
Roma or Plum: Great for sauces as they are pulpier, have fewer seeds and boil down quickly.
Heirloom: (my fave): Great texture and flavor. Use in salads, sandwiches and non sauce dishes.
Cherry: Great for snacks and salads and appetizers. Sweet and thin skinned. They come in many different colors and can also be used in sauces as they cook down pretty quickly.
How to Choose the Best Tomatoes
- Choose tomatoes that are free of blemishes and bruises
- Color, ideally, should be deep red when ripe (place on the counter to ripen if not fully ripe).
- Look for vine-ripened tomatoes to avoid being fooled by artificially ripened that are often bland.
- Smell the stem of the tomato. It should smell fragrant and earthy.
How To Store Tomatoes
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.
- 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.
- For ripe tomatoes, it’s best to use them right away or store them in a cool place like a cellar at 55F. 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.
- 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.
Tomatoes 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. I often use canned San Marzano tomatoes (the best) for recipes such as San Marzano Tomato Sauce and Parmesan Polenta with Herbed Tomatoes.
Fresh Tomato Recipes
Fresh tomatoes play a starring role in all the recipes below. The Panzanella, Fresh Tomato Sauce, Tomato Lemon Olive Pasta, Warm Salmon Salad and Roasted Halibut recipes will be more spectacular with seasonal summer-ripe tomatoes. The remaining recipes can get away with non seasonal fresh tomatoes or in some cases, canned tomatoes (preferrably San Marzano).