Everything You Should Make with Tomatoes

“You need an entire life just to know about tomatoes.”
 — Fernan Adrià

I’m fortunate to be able to spend part of my year in Northern California, and when people ask me which wines I love, I always say, “We don’t go for the wine, we go for the produce!”

Have I mentioned how much I love summer? It’s all about the plethora of unimaginably gorgeous seasonal produce. When I consider the miracle that beautiful produce truly is, it fills my heart. With summer at its full bounty, now is a perfect time to celebrate tomatoes. Having been called “the hero of the tomato,” I was pretty thrilled to reflect on all the ways tomatoes make a dish—and life in general—so much better.

There is simply nothing comparable to the joy of a sliced garden tomato. If you agree and you’ve never read Laurie Colwin’s book Home Cooking, you absolutely must. A simple salted tomato with fresh herbs and feta or mozzarella or bruschetta is an amazing fuss-free summer treat.

Here’s a fabulous twist on a Caprese:  add peaches, cheese, and balsamic. Speaking of a Caprese, this fig version is unimaginably delicious and easy, and it’s so much fun. It’s something you can extend out to an entire Abondanza platter, but if you’re doing Whole30, let’s not forget the beauty of a Paleo Caprese. Use hearts of palm instead of mozzarella, add avocado and olives, and you’ve got everything you’ll ever need.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve had the joy of seeing Roy’s unimaginably delicious pasta. I’m delighted that he has shared one of his favorite recipes with us this week. Roy’s Mangia sauce includes beautiful summer tomatoes roasted with onions, lots of garlic, and olive oil–until it all melds together to become a rustic sauce. Mangia.

It is so delicious with buttered noodles, extra Parmesan, sautéed sausage, and handfuls of herbs. This is another dish that is dangerous to make because whomever you make it for will follow you around until the end of time.

blt sandwich

There are so many other ways to enjoy the simplicity of a sliced salted tomato, beginning with a sandwich. What sandwich isn’t made infinitely better with a summer tomato slice? From a BLT to a tuna sandwich, to the simplicity of a patty melt with a thick Beefsteak tomato slice, freshly grilled with a bit of melted cheese… quite frankly, it’s divine. There’s no sandwich that isn’t made better with specialty produce like the onions I wait for every year from my farmer friend, Froggy.

charred tomato salad with corn

Recently when cleaning out the refrigerator, we came up with this spectacular dish. We grilled and charred tomato, zucchini, onion, and corn, and used it to create a rather divine salad. I happened to have a container of uniquely delicious mayo Fernanda had made for an Elote creation. The Elote recipe didn’t come to fruition, but this mayo flavored with garlic powder, lemon pepper, and chili powder sure did, and by happy accident, a star was born.

The beauty of this deliciousness is that you can do it two ways. I made a vegan version, and for the other version, I added Mexican white cheese, extra fresh garlic, and herbs. I must say, this is equally fabulous the next day. Although it doesn’t happen to photograph beautifully, you will pretty much want to stand over the kitchen counter and eat the whole thing.

Have you ever had a fried green tomato? They are sublime cut into thick slices, and the trick is the flour-egg-flour method. I use a batter that’s half cornmeal and half gluten-free flour to really get the crunch. This dish requires plenty of salt, both on the tomato and in the flour mixture. Wonderful served with any of my Magic Elixirs, like Romesco sauceSmoky Red Pepper Sauce, or a delicious aioli. If you’ve never made these, they are a must-do, and by the way, they make an unbelievably scrumptious sandwich.

If you want to extend the summer, there is my Tomato Confit, and I recently discovered that many of you freeze it. Dried tomatoes are also easy to make and freeze, and this week I’ve invited my friend Chef LaRae to talk about canning tomatoes. She is a home cook whose posts always inspire me with their “get in there and do it” attitude.

two plated dishes of pasta primavera with cheese

This beautiful grain-free Pasta Primavera is perfect for the height of summer. I’ve embraced these luscious hearts of palm noodles. This dish is loaded with vegetables: roasted tomatoes, sautéed corn, and zucchini–the bounty of the season! 

summer tomato salad

Tomatoes are always elevated to the next level with my Marinated Red Onions. That perfect blend of olive oil, vinegar, and dried oregano simply brings out their natural flavor, and there’s nothing better than a seasoned tomato.

And last but certainly not least is my mother’s meat sauce. Although she wasn’t an excellent cook, she had some dishes that I (and others) have brought forward. And I have to tell you, her meat sauce is spectacular. Always double it and freeze some. There is nothing more glorious than pulling it out of your freezer, heating it up, and having an (almost) instant delicious dinner.

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teri with tomatoes

This post is an excerpt from Friday Favorites #95, Tomatoes, that featured @chezlarae and @stlbackyardfarms. If you’d like to receive more things like this directly to your inbox every Friday, sign up for Friday Favorites here!

And if you’d like to receive this full issue, subscribe to Friday Favorites and DM the screenshot of your confirmation to Teri, letting her know you’d like to read Issue #95 on Tomatoes. She can send you the full issue right away!

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