Tomato or... not tomato? That's out of the question.
July 8, 2009 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Help us use our abundant home-grown tomatoes, even though our tomato tastes disagree!

So my boyfriend and I have a nice harvest of tomatoes for the first time ever, and will continue to collect them for some time yet.

I need ideas for ways to use them that satisfy my desire to not cook all the fresh flavor out of them, and his dislike for straight, raw tomato. He does like bruschetta, margherita pizza and greek salad, though he often donates some or all of his salad tomatoes to me. He loves salsa, of course.

Can you help me think of other creative semi-raw or appealingly paired tomato applications that someone who likes those foods would enjoy? I'm pretty happy eating them sliced with salt, but there are just too many for that, and I can't bear to let their lovely sunkissed perfection go to waste in tomato soup or something.

Vegetarian friendly recipes, please. No BLTs. *sniff, sniff.*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
If he eats margherita pizza is Mozzarella on the menu? If so, Caprese Salad. I like a bit of balsamic vinegar on mine and would eat it every day if the bloody squirrels didn't steal half my tomatoes.
posted by IanMorr at 2:34 PM on July 8, 2009

Salsa? Either roasted or not.
posted by electroboy at 2:39 PM on July 8, 2009

posted by electroboy at 2:39 PM on July 8, 2009

stuffed with (veggie)cheese and baked? maybe too much cooking involved. Or, diced up into quinoa, couscous or some other quick-cooking grain along with spinach or chard or something? I guess these aren't all that creative, sorry!

What about donating to friends and family? That's what my dad does as his garden produces way too much to consume, raw/cooked or otherwise.

You could also use them to communicate your disapproval of lousy vaudeville entertainers. I understand rotten lettuce heads are also employed in this way.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 2:42 PM on July 8, 2009

Would he like a Panzalla salad?

Also, a basic pasta - toss roughly chopped tomatos, fresh basil, ground pepper in warm olive oil, add cooked pasta and parmesan... yummy!
posted by darsh at 2:44 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Sun" dried tomatoes are pretty easy to make yourself.
posted by zerokey at 2:45 PM on July 8, 2009

Gazpacho? I like chunkier versions, your boyfriend might prefer a very blended soup. Either way, it's not cooked and a great use for fresh home-grown tomatoes.
posted by misskaz at 2:47 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tomato pie!
posted by headnsouth at 2:53 PM on July 8, 2009

What type of tomatoes are you growing? That's a big part to figuring out how to serve them. Generically, I personally like *stuffed* tomatoes, and the flavor of a fresh quality tomato makes fresh stuffed tomatoes roughly 100 times better than store bought.

Samples: meat, but great without the bacon or this are examples. This is more in the 'appealingly paired' than 'raw' category, but this was the 'gateway tomato methodology' for me as a kid, and I've served them to lots of people dubious about whole tomatoes over the years and people generally like them. Ideally, this isn't in the soup or something category.
posted by corprew at 2:55 PM on July 8, 2009

He may dislike the taste of unripe tomato, and possibly the texture. Ripe, juicy tomato has a very different flavor.

If you have very juicy, ripe tomatoes, two of the finest things you can do with them are gazpacho and panzanella salad. You can find recipes for them in abundance on the interweb. That sort of 'green' flavor of not-too-ripe tomatoes, which is mostly absent in very ripe tomatoes, can be further subdued by the use of garlic (just putting in a whole garlic clove and taking it out before eating can do the trick).

Another thing you can try is tomato water. Again, recipes for this are all over (it's rather trendy I think); here's my self-linky take on it where I turned it into a savory jelly. Tomato water is an amazing experience for many people the first time they have it.

Yet another unusual thing is savory tomato sorbet, a great refresher during a summer meal.

With whole tomatoes, you can roast them: just cut in half, layer on an anchovy, a bit of fresh rosemary, maybe add a bit of grated garlic or if you're not going out later, garlic slices. Drizzle on some olive oil, and roast until squigy. Eat with bread or pasta.

A lot of your tomatoes may end up becoming sauce. When you make a tomato sauce, don't cook it for more than 10 minutes or so after it comes to a boil. That way you keep most of that fresh tomato taste. Freeze your sauce for long keeping, don't bother with canning and such. And don't overload it with additives like sugar, vinegar, or even herbs (just add a bit of basil or rosemary or whatever you like) - all will serve to kill that fresh tomato flavor off. My basic tomato sauce recipe is: 1 medium onion, 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped up, sautéed in olive oil, add about 4-5 cups peeled and chopped tomato, cook for about 10 minutes, add a bit of salt.

Oven-roasted tomatoes are another option for preserving them.
posted by thread_makimaki at 2:56 PM on July 8, 2009

I was about to suggest gazpacho, too. Like misskaz said, your bf might like his more blended, which is no problem, you each can have it the way you like. You can also make roasted tomato gazpacho, which is also pretty good.

I like to add chopped fresh, raw tomato to warm dishes as a topping. I'll add it to rice dishes, cous cous, you name it. Of course, there are the dishes that call for raw, chopped tomato, like tacos and stuff.

Stuffed tomatoes might be a good option, it doesn't cook out all the tomato goodness, while still cuts down on some of the rawness your bf doesn't like. I like to mix spinach, or creamed spinach, chopped mushroom, rice and tomato innards to stuff into the tomato.

Various chopped salads are good, too. You can drain black beans, cut fresh corn off the cob, mince onions, chop tomato, celery and whatever else you think you'll like (veggies that work well are ones with crunchy textures), then top with a dressing of garlic, oil, lemon juice or balsamic. Or just store bought italian dressing. Serve on shredded lettuce or just eat on its own. You can store the chopped tomatoes separately from the rest of the salad and just add them into yours, if your bf doesn't like it.
posted by necessitas at 2:58 PM on July 8, 2009

Try tomatoes and dried cranberries. So good. Slow baked tomatoes with rice vinegar, olive oil, lavender, a touch of honey.
posted by effluvia at 3:29 PM on July 8, 2009

Chopped raw tomatoes and basil are my favorite toppings for pan fried pizza (here is a recipe I found via Google - I'm not familiar with this particular recipe, but I can't find my own recipe right now). Pan fried pizza is basically similar to a thin crust pizza; I like making the pan fried version when I don't feel like heating up the whole oven and I don't want to wait for dough to rise.

Also, if you live anywhere near me I will gladly partake of your extra tomatoes.
posted by pemberkins at 3:35 PM on July 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

I should add that unlike the recipe I linked to, I don't use sauce or anything like that - just the raw tomatoes, some basil and a little bit of mozzarella. Refer to that recipe for the dough, and do whatever you like with the topping! (I also don't bother putting mine in the broiler; I just add the toppings right after I've flipped the dough over in the pan, and then eat it right from the pan.)
posted by pemberkins at 3:38 PM on July 8, 2009

I like fresh tomatoes, but don't really like the skin. Would your boyfriend enjoy tomatoes more if you removed the skin first?

I do this by impaling the tomato on a long barbeque fork and turning it slowly about an inch or two over a stovetop burner on high (works best with gas stove). Once skin has split from the heat, let it sit for a minute or so to cool, then remove the skin, and chop or slice the tomato as needed.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes is to slice them and place on toasted hearty sandwich bread spread with mayo and sprinkled with a little salt and lots of ground pepper.
posted by marsha56 at 3:47 PM on July 8, 2009

I love tomatoes in pasta in the summer. It isn't really a sauce--after cooking the pasta, put a little olive oil and garlic in the still warm pan, let sizzle to just the tiniest bit golden, add a bunch of chopped tomatoes, whoosh around in the pan with a little salt for just a few seconds, readd the pasta, get it nice and hot, then plate it. Some shaved parmesan and shredded fresh basil leaves on top, a glass of slightly chilled red wine--awesome. The tomatoes should be firm and still very juicy and still have their vegetative integrity.

My very favorite thing when the tomatoes come in.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:00 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I may be a jerk for suggesting this, but maybe he should learn to like them. I only offer this because 1) I had some friends who did just that (they ate a number of disliked items until they enjoyed them) and 2) raw tomatoes are fantastic. Before hearing of my friends successful attempts at appreciating foods they previously didn't like, I would have said this effort would be fruitless (heh).

That, or bundle them up and bring them to the meet-up in a few weeks, and we will all enjoy them on his behalf.

(I say these things only because you can punch me, in person at the big meet-up, if these suggestions are in any way offensive.)
posted by filthy light thief at 4:06 PM on July 8, 2009

Tomato confit.

I actually use a helluva lot more oil than that recipe calls for. I basically cut the tomatoes into 'filets,' then cover them in olive oil in a baking dish. Roast long and slow, store in fridge. Excellent on crusty bread. Save the oil.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:14 PM on July 8, 2009

An old Martha Stewart recipe that I love:

Spaghetti No Knife
serves 4

Coarse salt
1 pound spaghetti
4 medium tomatoes (about 2 pounds), cored and torn into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup coarsely torn basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into 1/2-inch pieces (optional)
3 tablespoons coarsely torn oregano leaves
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook until al dente, following label directions.

2. While pasta is cooking, combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. This sauce can be made 4 to 8 hours in advance without the mozzarella, which will be added later. Let stand at room temperature.

3. Drain spaghetti in a colander. Add to tomato mixture. If making in advance, be sure to add the mozzarella with the spaghetti. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with basil, and serve immediately.
posted by wallaby at 4:25 PM on July 8, 2009

My personal favorite, and what I had for dinner last night, the tomato sandwich. Bread, freshly sliced tomato, and more mayo than should be consumed at one sitting. I find any seasonings obscure the tomato-y, mayo-y goodness, but since he doesn't like the taste of raw tomato, maybe that's the way to go.
posted by crankylex at 5:54 PM on July 8, 2009

I used to feel the same way he did and I sometimes still do, but not as much. What helped me to enjoy them is: 1) really good tomatoes, 2) drizzled with really, really good olive oil (hint: it should taste like olive juice) 3) sprinkled with good sea salt, 4) some mozarella slices over them, 5) all topped off with really fresh basil leaves.
posted by creasy boy at 6:30 PM on July 8, 2009

Raw tomato sauce is excellent. The Martha Stewart recipe is a little bunk, but it's got the general idea.

The one my dad taught me is to mince two cloves of garlic and to use them to rub a wooden bowl. You then toss in about a pound to a pound and a half of ripe to over-ripe tomatoes (and if you have more than one variety, that's really best). Add a little bit of salt and pepper, about an eighth of a cup of olive oil, a little oregano and a little crushed red pepper. Wait, like, half an hour or so (the longer you wait, the better the flavors will mesh). Cook your pasta—fusilli works best for this, because it does a good job of soaking up chunks—pretty al dente and drain it, but don't rinse it, because you want it to keep cooking just a little as you add it to the sauce in the bowl, which should be pretty wet. The pasta will cook the rest of the way with the tomato water. Then you add just a little more olive oil as you mix, and when it's stopped cooking, you add your fresh basil. You add the basil at the end because basil gets bitter when it's cooked, and you want the basil's sweetness to come through. Once you've made that a couple of times, you can play around with the proportions and adding other herbs and spices (I've been adding this Mozambique Peri Peri to, like, everything now that my dad mailed me out a couple jars of it—it's got a citrus spice flavor that's delicious, which you could probably get close to replicating if you added cayenne to a regular chili mix, and a tiny bit of the citric acid crystals they sell at the grocery store).

If this doesn't work, well, maybe I could trade you something for your fresh tomatoes, because I eat 'em like mad.
posted by klangklangston at 7:01 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks a lot for these great inspirational ideas. So far, we have mini roma grape tomatoes (which I have been handling quite nicely on a purely off-the-cuff snacking basis) and Brandywines.

These ideas are so mouth-watering, I don't even care if he likes them -- the dishes will help me take the plunge and eat 'em all! (Especially since we got this awesome olive oil and balsamic shop down the street!)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:13 PM on July 8, 2009

My favorite summer salad is large chunks of tomato, feta cheese, whole wheat spiral noodles, cranraisins, chopped onion, chopped cucumber, diced green pepper, edamame (or snow peas) and chives, drenched in zesty italian dressing. Make it the day before you want to eat it, then before serving add more dressing. After the tomatoes marinate in the dressing they are so yummy.

I just kind of toss everything together adding more of the parts I like better. And sometimes I leave out the pasta. I am kind of a tomato freak too. A bit of salt and I'm good. Tomato slices, salt, with mayo on sandwich bread is good too. (ok so he prob won't want that but you should sooo try it!) On preview I guess I will be heading over to crankylex's house for dinner
posted by meeshell at 7:23 PM on July 8, 2009

These tomatoes filled with arborio rice are AMAZING, simple, and seem to fit the bill nicely all around--straight-up fresh tomato juice sweetening the rice within, but the tomato itself is roasted to yummy perfection. And they reward using freshfreshfresh, nicely ripened specimens. I definitely recommend them.
posted by ifjuly at 8:26 PM on July 8, 2009

I know that others have suggested sauce, but I'd like to take it a step further and suggest a *roasted* tomato sauce. I find that it intensifies the flavors of the tomato and that it tastes more tomato-y than boiled sauces.

For my sauce, I just take an oven-safe pot and fill it with tomatoes, plus some peeled garlic and olive oil. Roast in a hot oven until the tomatoes have sort of collapsed and the garlic is soft. Let it cool a bit, and then run the tomatoes and garlic through a blender, adding herbs and salt to taste. Sometimes I add some roasted red peppers, too. It's really easy and delicious, plus it freezes beautifully. At the end of the summer, I'll go through thirty-plus pounds of tomatoes like this.

What about something like tomato jam? Again, maybe more preservation-oriented than you're currently looking for, but something to keep in mind. It's really, really worth it to use fresh summer tomatoes for preserving tomatoes like this or as in sauce. (And, incidentally, if you're left with any tiny green ones at the end of summer, you can always pickle them!)

I like to make kebabs of veg and do them on the grill--cherry tomatoes are a great addition to this.

I'll nth stuffed tomatoes, too--try stuffing them with couscous, onion, and chopped veggies, or rice, cranberries, and a little cinnamon. I have to admit that I also like them stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese (and bacon, or maybe bacon bits, since those are vegetarian).

Tomato pie is delicious, too. Par-bake a pie crust--maybe for ten minutes--and then you spread it with a mixture of equal parts mayonnaise and parmesan cheese, plus some minced garlic. (Look, okay, I know that mayonnaise is gross, and this is literally one of two ways that I will eat it, but like this, it is delicious.) Top the mayo-cheese mixture with slivered basil, and on top of that, layer thinly-sliced tomatoes. Because I'm have a difficult time drawing the line about these things, I often sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 350 for about a half an hour.

Wow. This is long. I really, really like tomatoes.
posted by MeghanC at 9:20 PM on July 8, 2009

I am not sold on raw tomatoes in most applications, particularly sandwiches. Little tomatoes have much less of that gross goop factor, though, making caprese a possible feasible option.

For me, even the slightest amount of heat turns ew raw to yay tomato. Cut in half, saute in pan very briefly. Add to any other recipe. You can even leave yours raw, if you like.
posted by desuetude at 9:47 PM on July 8, 2009

Tomato and sausage bake - I've made this a few times, and tomatoes are cooked, but not too much. Plus it's a nice slack option, because pretty much all you do is chuck everything in a roasting pan and let it bake for 15-30 minutes.
posted by harriet vane at 10:13 PM on July 8, 2009

Two of my favorites: Ravioli with Cherry Tomatoes and Cheese (especially good with cheese ravioli, like this) and Greek Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Feta.
posted by anthy at 10:52 PM on July 8, 2009

Vegetarian friendly recipes, please. No BLTs. *sniff, sniff.*


Huh, if you eat cheese, try this instead. Grate an amount of very meltable cheese, such as havarti or monterrey jack, onto a microwave-safe plate. Nuke the bejeezus out of it until it is completely melted, bubbly, and slightly toasty in color. Allow to cool slightly, then peel off of the plate. Allow to cool further. If you have cooked it long enough, once the cheese is cooled down it will be crunchy.

Don't get on his case for not liking fresh tomatoes, it's probably something he has little control over. When making the toast for the fake BLT, instead of using a toaster cook it on a stovetop griddle, and just before flipping over the toast, place a sliced tomato round directly under the bread. Let the other side grill/toast until the tomato has lost its saladity and has moved towards cooked, then flip onto a plate and cover with fake cheese bacon and the lettuce, followed by the other piece of toast.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:53 AM on July 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

The little grape tomatoes are great on veggie kabobs if you've got a grill. Get some tomatoes, chop up some peppers/onions/squash/eggplant/whatever, and sit down the two of you and assemble your own skewers. He can kabobulate his share of the poor tomatoes and grill the bejezus out of them, you can set your share aside to eat raw, and everyone's happy with no extra work.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:05 AM on July 9, 2009

This won't use up a lot, but I love fresh tomatoes on baked nachos. And, I know you asked for semi-cooked tomato recipes, but you might like this Indian lentil dish. Lentils + tomatoes + onions + garlic = yummy.

Rinse about ¾ cup red lentils (masoor dal) and set aside.
Saute about 1 small onion and 3-4 garlic cloves in oil.
Add cayenne pepper to taste and about ½ tsp of turmeric.
When the onions begin to brown, add the lentils, stir to coat with oil.
Add about 2/3 cup water, a bunch of chopped tomatoes, and a generous amount of fresh chopped cilantro (not optional) and green chilis (optional).
Simmer on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes; add more water if necessary.
When lentils are soft, add salt to taste, stir, and pour into serving dish.
In the same pot, heat about 2 tbsps butter or ghee and add another ½ onion, thinly sliced. Cook until browned and almost crisp, and pour over cooked lentils. Enjoy!

To save time (but increase dishes), the last step can be done in a separate pot while the lentils are cooking.
posted by yawper at 8:05 AM on July 9, 2009

Also, this might be just as good with full sized, chopped tomatoes, I don't know:

Sauteed cherry tomatoes

24 cherry tomatoes
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons minced fresh basil, chives, flat-leaf parsley, or dill
Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper

Prick each cherry tomato with the tip of a sharp knife to prevent the skin from bursting. Melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the tomatoes, tossing frequently until hot, about 1 minute. Toss with the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken to individual pieces and divide the hot tomatoes among the plates. Serve immediately.

And this is raw, but it's also really good, and sits long enough that maybe it wouldn't taste so raw to you: Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula. You don't need to use cherry tomatoes--it's just as good with ripe garden tomatoes. It makes an excellent lunch and couldn't be easier.
posted by ifjuly at 10:38 AM on July 9, 2009

« Older Do we tip the satellite installer?   |   Both are great for me, actually Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.