A torrent of tomatoes
August 9, 2011 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Best uses for fresh tomatoes other than saucing pasta?

We're getting a beautiful crop of heirloom tomatoes in the garden (cherries and beefsteak, mostly lower-acid), and they're ripening fast. I'll put up some sauce in the freezer, but I'm looking for new ways to eat them fresh, too. The catch is, I'm trying to eat less white carbs, so pasta is not my first choice. How can I use these amazing tomatoes other than Caprese salad every night? (I'm not a fan of gazpacho, but maybe your recipe can convince me.)
posted by libraryhead to Food & Drink (45 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
posted by nadawi at 6:19 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Salsa. Can them or freeze them for soups, etc.
posted by JayRwv at 6:19 AM on August 9, 2011

Tomato and onion salad in simple vinaigrette with salt + pepper.

Bruschetta---sautee onions, garlic, white wine, butter, salt, pepper, (scallops?), then throw in tomatoes at the end and soften them some. Slice oblongs from a baguette by slicing on the bias, wet with olive oil or butter, bake until crispy/chewy. Spoon some of the tomato topping on the crispy bread things, yum.

For high quality tomatoes, simpler is usually better.

(Making pasta sauce with heirlooms (i.e. cooking them for a few hours) is a little bit of a waste of heirlooms, IMO. But that's said as someone who doesn't get to eat them very often and doesn't have a garden full.)
posted by TheRedArmy at 6:23 AM on August 9, 2011

on the salsa front, in the summer i often prefer pico de gallo. less cooking, more freshness.

if you're going to do a salsa, roast all the salsa veggies and then make it.
posted by nadawi at 6:24 AM on August 9, 2011

But then it occurred to me that you could make heirloom ketchup, and I think I have to support that idea.
posted by TheRedArmy at 6:24 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you have a perfect tomato, you should make a perfect BLT following this exact, layer-by-layer schematic:

Whole wheat bread, lightly toasted
Crisp lettuce
Bacon (oven cooked or pressed on the griddle so it's flat)
Smooth peanut butter (trust me)
Whole wheat bread, lightly toasted
posted by phunniemee at 6:26 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm THISCLOSE to being in the same situation (and I can't wait). Last year I ate so many tomatoes the inside of my mouth was raw.

If you're cutting carbs, consider Wasa crackers. I made some tasty "pizzas" on them w/fresh sliced tomatoes and cheese.

This soup is also delicious. Heavy in fat (but you can easily tweak it), but delicious.

Roast them with garlic. Then top a nice skirt steak with them.
posted by ACN09 at 6:29 AM on August 9, 2011

Make your own sun dried tomatoes
posted by knile at 6:40 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Scalloped tomatoes?
posted by kmennie at 6:42 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tomato and bread salad. I figure that even though you're cutting down on carbs, you could just use whatever kind of bread would be suitable for the carb situation. Just so long as it's good and crusty. The original recipe calls for a baugette.

The recipe is kind of free-form: the way I make it is by cutting up tomatoes, a couple cucumbers, some celery, maybe a red onion, and the bread into uniform size chunks; dump all the vegetables in a bowl, and then toast the bread chunks in the oven to dry them out a bit (you can use day-old bread for this too, fortunately). Make a viniagrette dressing, and then right when you're about to serve it, dump in the bread, pour in the dressing and toss everything. If you want to make it even heartier, throw in some chunks of mozzarella.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:43 AM on August 9, 2011

Best answer: Mark Bittman has you covered.
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:50 AM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]

If you have basil and can get good fresh mozzarella, caprese salad. I would live on it if I could get the bits reliably.

In the way of pasta sauce do you know about the ultimately simplest pasta sauce? Needs really ripe, well-flavoured tomatoes. Chop your tomatoes in bite-size chunks, cook pasta. When pasta is done, toss the tomatoes through it, with or without a bit of extra virgin olive oil. That's it. Bright and fresh tasting almost beyond belief. Should work with wholemeal pasta, if that's your fancy.
posted by Logophiliac at 6:51 AM on August 9, 2011

Tall Greek Tomato Salad from Jacques Pepin. Just another tomato salad, but if you build it like he says it's a) super easy and b) looks very impressive for guests. When we're eating it cascually I just chop everything up in advance. (But I have a toddler.) Tomato, feta, onion, cucumber, olives, a greekish vinaigrette. (I leave out the olives, personally.)

I also do Triple Threat Tomatoes when I have too many -- slices topped with chickpea slather (i.e., hummus), black olive spread, and pesto. Or whatever one of those I feel like.

My toddler eats tomatoes plain as a hand fruit, so there's that too. :) He particularly likes poking his finger in through the hard skin to get to the squishy inside before devouring the entire thing. It's the little pleasures in life.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:52 AM on August 9, 2011

i'm not a great cook but here is what I would do with excess homegrown tomatoes:

1. I have never met a salad that is not improved by tomatoes. I may be biased because I love tomatoes, but still.

2. I'd also suggest making a tomato offering to your neighbours - tomatoes are essentially red suitcases of juicy delight. Turning excess tomatoes into surprising bundles of joy is an excellent idea.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 6:53 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Logophiliac, you'll note that libraryhead above already does know about caprese salad and is looking for other options.

libraryhead -- there's also stuffed tomatoes. Take the tomatoes, hollow out the seeds and stuff (you can add it to the stuffing if you like), then make some hearty salady-kind of filling (I would go with a grain-based one, but i'm not sure what grains you're going with if you're going easy on carbs). Stuff it in the hollowed-out tomatoes and serve.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:56 AM on August 9, 2011

Best answer: Try putting your deliciuos tomato sauce over spaghetti squash. (Casserole, though delicious, only uses 2-3 tomatoes.)

Tomato pie is delicious, and fairly low-carb, but it's definitely not low-fat.

Must second the idea of homemade ketchup - I used this recipe and couldn't be happier - but it's definitely easier to make (less cooking time) with a sauce-type tomato like a Roma.
posted by aimedwander at 6:57 AM on August 9, 2011

Oooh, and further on stuffed tomatoes -- I know that in some stores you can get tubs of fresh mozzarella in tiny-baby-marble size nubbins. I'd bet a filling of those nubbins of mozzarella, some chopped-up cucumber, and pesto would be delicious.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:57 AM on August 9, 2011

Best answer: Slice up tomatoes, peaches (or mangos), and red onion. Throw in chopped cilantro, olive oil, and lemon or lime juice.

Or slice up tomatoes and combine with sliced strawberries, basil, and balsalmic vinegar.

Both are from Mark Bittman, and both are summer staples at my house.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:58 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

Salads, salsa, soup, omelette, or hamburger fixings. Sun dry them for use later?
posted by JJ86 at 7:08 AM on August 9, 2011

Combine sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and scallions. Dress with sour cream. Salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour. This gets way better the longer it sits (the juices of the tomatoes integrate with the sour cream and it is just delectable).
posted by litnerd at 7:08 AM on August 9, 2011

Fresh tomatoes - I'm jealous! Chop very ripe tomatoes in half horizontally and squeeze out the seeds, roughly chop and place in a bowl. Add capers, chopped olives, torn fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper, and add a few good glugs of olive oil. Stir, and let sit at room temp for an hour or two, and adjust seasonings as you wish. You can use this for bruschetta, as a salsa for frittata, or if you add a bit of vinegar with the oil (red wine, balsamic, etc), pour the whole bowl over some cubes of stale (but good quality) bread for a bread salad.
posted by lulu68 at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and this one:
posted by lulu68 at 7:21 AM on August 9, 2011

Best answer: To ImprovieOrDie's first suggestion I would add chopped avocado and throw some grilled chicken on top. Ridiculously filling and good.
posted by gaspode at 7:30 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

We also like to stuff the tomatoes, and a wide variety of cooked and uncooked foods can go in them. We often stuff them with tuna salad and include some sliced cucumber around the perimeter for crunch.

They are also nice in a lentil salad - cook lentils and marinate them with chopped scallions, parsley, vinaigrette, and then added chopped fresh tomatoes (or just cut cherry tomatoes in half) to taste shortly before serving.
posted by gudrun at 7:38 AM on August 9, 2011

Best answer: Pasta sauce...caprese...tomato salsa. Standard uses for the tomato.
My suggestions:
Tomates Farcies - French for (basically) stuffed tomatoes, but instead of stuffing them with grain/carb combos stuff them with seasoned ground meat (I recommend ground chuck, oregano salt and pepper or you could go a completely different route with more spices). Empty out the tomatoes, fill them with some meat (which has already been precooked a bit), put the caps of the tomatoes on again to keep in the moisture and roast them at 350┬║ for awhile.

Peach Tomato Salad - Everytime I make this people go crazy. I followed Mark Bittman's idea (essentially summarized here: http://eatmakeread.com/2009/07/29/101-salads-2-or-peach-and-tomato-salad/). You can play with the ratios to your liking but it consists of sliced ripe peaches (in season right now!), sliced tomatoes, red onion, cilantro (or parsley if you're not a cilantro fan), red wine vinegar and some oil (though I leave this out to make it more refreshing) + salt/pepper to taste. Perfect summer salad and easy to make (and eat) a lot of it!

Mini margherita pizzas - You're not into white carbs but you could probably buy a whole wheat crust (or make your own 50/50 combo, it's easy!) and use those cherry tomatoes with some fresh mozzarella. mmmm

Or throw some mangoes in with the tomato salsa for a more tropical version..
posted by winterisfun at 7:41 AM on August 9, 2011

Low difficulty comfort foods with tomatoes that I like are omelets and tomato & swiss/feta sandwiches on soft bread/pita bread. Also, shrimp creole has a somewhat higher degree of difficulty, but is totally worth it, and can be served over brown rice. (Admittedly, sauce-based, but delicious; of course, it requires ability to get fresh shrimp. Frozen shrimp=bad.) My ex's grandmother used to eat tomatoes with just vinegar, salt and pepper, but I can't attest to flavor.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 7:53 AM on August 9, 2011

Best answer: Eatingwell has a bunch of good tomato recipes. So far this summer, I've made the Proven├žal Summer Vegetables, Bean and Tomato Salad with Honey Vinaigrette, Shrimp Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes, and Tomato-Corn Pie (the crust uses half whole-wheat, half white flour). Next up for us is Baked Parmesan Tomatoes (we have a lot of tomatoes, too!).
posted by amarynth at 8:04 AM on August 9, 2011

I too came to recommend the NYT Bittman article, as well as this delicious slideshow with accompanying recipes.
posted by elizardbits at 8:19 AM on August 9, 2011

Last Saturday, I made whole wheat ziti with pesto, halved cherry tomatoes, and sauteed zucchini. Killer!

I like to make an Italian tomato tart when I have really lovely fresh tomatoes; make a whole wheat crust, fill about 1/3 with shredded mozzarella (the grocery store kind, not fresh), cover with lots of sliced seeded tomatoes (this is best with meaty tomatoes, such as Romas), sprinkle with salt and oregano, throw in some nice olives, and cover with more mozzarella. Bake until yummy, allow to cool a bit, then eat warm. (Let me know if you need more precise directions--I'm at work and can look up the recipe when I get home.)
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:02 AM on August 9, 2011

libraryhead and Empress: [Blushes] My bad, shoulda read the question properly... but I do find it hard to believe that anyone couldn't eat caprese every night ...
posted by Logophiliac at 9:05 AM on August 9, 2011

Chutney. It's about as easy to make as salsa, and you can use it to accessorize all sorts of healthy vegetable-based Indian dishes and/or stir-fries. (I lower the amount of sugar in the linked basic recipe and use brown or raw sugar instead of white).

Stuffed tomatoes can make a good side dish. Stuff them just like you would a pepper, with whatever you think would be tasty -- quinoa or brown rice can make a good whole grain stuffing base.

You can dry your tomatoes in a food dehydrator (if you don't have one I bet someone you know does) to make sun-dried tomatoes, and then use those in various wraps / sauces.

Also, my mother used to use up beefsteak tomatoes by slicing them thickly and broiling them with just a slice of mozzarella on top. Holy moses, is that good for a two-ingredient recipe. (You can add a sprinkle of sea salt and/or oregano if it's too plain).
posted by BlueJae at 9:12 AM on August 9, 2011

Response by poster: I've marked a few that sound especially appealing at the moment, but they all sound great. Keep 'em coming!
posted by libraryhead at 9:16 AM on August 9, 2011

Seconding pico de gallo. Also, if you make a lot, you can mix some of it with avocado, extra lime juice, and spices (I like salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper) for amazing guacamole.

phunniemee's BLT sounds fantastic.
posted by randomname25 at 9:19 AM on August 9, 2011

OMG, tomato pie. Slice the tomatoes, remove the seeds and allow them to drain on a clean towel. Take a pre-baked pie shell and layer the following: mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil, salt & pepper, basil, onions. Repeat until full, top with bread crumbs and Parmesan. Modify ingredients to meet your desires, but you can't go wrong with tomato pie.
posted by domo at 9:43 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Especially with the heat we've had.. I just made a batch myself and it's very refreshing.
posted by rich at 9:51 AM on August 9, 2011

Nthing peach and tomato salad with fresh herbs and an infused oil vinaigrette (I like fennel oil). So good. I think Saveur linked to a recipe last summer, and various cookbooks allude to it...
posted by ifjuly at 10:12 AM on August 9, 2011

grilled tomatoes. slice tomatoes in half, saute over med-high heat, with a little olive oil, turning once. Or grill under broiler. A juicy & messy part of an English breakfast.

gazpacho - lots of variations. personally, I'm lazy and used canned tomatoes, as fresh ones are not necessary. I use a food processor for this, processing ingredients separately and careful not to over-process. I like it kind of chunky. Quantities are to taste. Bread is traditionally added, with some tomato juice, and processed well. I don't add it, but you might like it.
in order of quantity
tomatoes, peeled(or not) & well diced
cucumbers, peeled and grated with a large grater, or chopped fine
peppers, I like cubanelles or mildly spicy varieties, well diced
red onion, well minced
garlic, mashed
olive oil
wine vinegar

Greek salad. this is a composed, not tossed salad, served on a plate or platter.
sliced tomatoes
sliced cucumber
sliced onion
slices of good feta cheese
good greek olives, calamata are nice
olive oil - be a bit lavish
serve with crusty bread. The juices left by the veg, mixed with olive oil, are delish with bread
optional: fresh green pepper, splash of vinegar, sprinkling of oregano.

Top any quiche, pizza or casserole with sliced tomatoes.

Slice tomatoes thickly, top with pesto, or salami, or anything tasty, like olive tapenade.

Pasta salad
whole grain fusilli
chopped veg - tomato, cuke, broccoli, onion, garlic, summer squash (steamed 1st), green beans, peas, snow peas, sliced arugula, maybe some herbs from the garden, and tomatoes.
olives, capers, banana pappers, something to add some
dressing made from vinaigrette & mayo and some dried herbs, with salt & pepper

best possible use of garden fresh tomatoes - pick tomato, cut open, sprinkle with salt, eat while still sun-warmed. Juice dripping down chin optional. My tomatoes are getting pink, can't wait for this.
posted by theora55 at 10:26 AM on August 9, 2011

I passed whole summers of my childhood eating nothing but tomato and mustard sandwiches for lunch. Willingly. A nice spicy dijon, some thick slices of beefsteak, some nice crusty bread, toasted.
posted by pemberkins at 12:20 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by coolguymichael at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2011

We make curry base with our bounty and freeze it for quick meals throughout the year. Saute some onions until well browned, add minced garlic and minced fresh ginger and either your favorite curry powder (this is one of ours) or your favorite curry spices. Throw your chopped tomatoes in, cook until thoroughly saucy. Then you can freeze it, and when you want to use it, put it in a pot, add your desired veg and/or protein and simmer until done.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:51 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and one of the major reasons we grow tomatoes is so that we can make fried green tomatoes. Most people do an egg-cornmeal breading, but I use gram flour/besan, for an Indian approach.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:55 PM on August 9, 2011

Late to the party: Tomato Water
posted by JABof72 at 10:22 PM on August 11, 2011

in Moroccan cooking, often you top tagine-y meat stews with either "tomato jam" or eggplant jam. Paula Wolfert has recipes for it in her cookbooks, and her recipe might have a recipe too. this reminds me, a friend once made tomato coulis and it was good. oh oh oh, and Pappa al Pomodoro is boink-you-over-the-head delicious if and only if it's made with really good fresh ripe height of summer tomatoes.
posted by ifjuly at 4:36 AM on August 12, 2011

her WEBSITE might have a recipe, that is.
posted by ifjuly at 8:10 AM on August 12, 2011

Revisiting this to contribute tomato confit.
posted by gudrun at 12:44 PM on August 13, 2011

« Older How to deal with over-the-top sardonic, witty...   |   What are your favorite low carb snacks and meals... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.