Skip to content
Join Life Time
a variety of fresh tomatoes

When tomato season finally arrives, it’s time to fill your basket. Until this point, you’ve made do with tasteless, pale imitations of the real thing, so once locally grown, vine-ripened tomatoes are ready at the farmers’ market or in your backyard, you just have to celebrate.
When selecting tomatoes, the first rule is to choose the ripest, most flavorful ones you can find. Yes, some types of tomatoes are better raw and others cooked, but why bother with any of it if they don’t taste great?

In general, Roma (or plum) tomatoes are considered best for making sauces, because they have a thick, meaty wall of flesh and contain less water. If you don’t have Romas, use the best tomatoes available and cook the sauce a little longer to thicken.

Big beefsteak tomatoes are good for sandwiches and juicy salads and salsas. Grape and cherry tomatoes are usually sweeter than other varieties, and they taste great cooked or raw. Heirloom tomatoes come in a wide range of colors and sizes; they’re perfect for salads or as a grilled or roasted side dish.

When the tomatoes are this good, they make the meal!

Rainbow Panzanella

rainbow panzanella

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 20 minutes

  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 6 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, divided
  • 2 lb. mixed heirloom tomatoes, cubed
  • 8 oz. small fresh mozzarella balls (or bocconcini)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil, chopped
  • ¼ cup packed fresh mint, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and place on a large sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and toss to coat. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bread is dry and toasted. Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, place the tomato cubes and mozzarella balls.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, vinegar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, then whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Pour over the tomato mixture, add the bread cubes and herbs, and toss to mix.
  4. Let the bread soften for five minutes before serving.

Fresh Salsa With Avocado

fresh salsa with avocado

Makes about 3 cups •  Prep time 15 minutes •  Cook time 0 minutes

  • 1 lb. Roma tomatoes
  • 2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño, stem and seeds removed
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, torn
  • 1 tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 large avocado
  1. Slice each tomato in half vertically, cut out the stem, and squeeze out the seeds and pulp. Place the tomato halves in a food-processor bowl.
  2. Add the scallions, garlic, and jalapeño, and pulse a few times to chop everything finely, but don’t purée the mixture.
  3. Add the cilantro, lime juice, cumin, and salt, and pulse to mix. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Just before serving, cut the avocado in half length­wise and remove the pit. Use a paring knife to cut the flesh into cubes in the shell, then scoop out with a spoon into the bowl.
  5. Toss gently to mix and serve immediately.

Tomato and Sweet Corn Salad

tomato and sweet corn salad

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 2 minutes

  • 2 medium ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup packed fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Set up a steamer and steam the corn kernels over simmering water for about two minutes. The corn should be crisp-tender. Spread the kernels on a clean kitchen towel to dry and cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, lemon juice, and salt, then gradually whisk in the olive oil.
  3. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, parsley, and corn kernels, and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Fresh Tomato Chutney

fresh tomato chutney

Makes 1 ½  •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 20 minutes

  • 2 tsp. avocado oil
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. whole brown mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. red-pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 lb. Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 tbs. apple-cider vinegar
  • 3 tbs. coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  1. Place a medium pot over medium-high heat and add the avocado oil. Heat the oil until shimmering, then add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the seeds are sizzling, then add the ginger and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, raisins, vinegar, coconut sugar, and salt, and stir to combine.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl or refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Grilled Sesame-Soy Green Tomatoes

grilled green tomatoes

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 10 minutes active, plus 30 minutes inactive for marinating •  Cook time 10 minutes

  • 1 lb. green globe or beefsteak tomatoes
  • 2 tbs. rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbs. avocado oil
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
  • 2 tbs. toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  1. Slice the tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Place in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, garlic, honey, sesame oil, avocado oil, and soy sauce. Whisk to mix well, then pour over the tomatoes, turning gently to coat. Marinate for half an hour at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to two hours.
  3. Preheat the grill on high. If using charcoal, light the coals and wait until they’re coated with white ash, then cover the grill and preheat for 15 minutes.
  4. Use tongs to lift the tomato slices out of the marinade, shaking off excess and reserving the marinade.
  5. Place the tomato slices on the hot grate and cook for about two to three minutes per side until softened but not falling apart.
  6. Transfer to a platter, top with the remaining marinade, sesame seeds, and scallions, then serve.

 Pasta Trapanese

pasta trapanese

Makes 6 servings •  Prep time 15 minutes •  Cook time 30 minutes

  • 1 lb. Roma tomatoes
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. linguine
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a big pinch of salt. Prepare an ice bath by placing a few handfuls of ice in a large bowl with cold water.
  2. Use a paring knife to cut a small “x” in the tip of each tomato. When the water is boiling, drop the tomatoes in and return to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to transfer each tomato to the ice water. Turn off the heat under the pot of water; save for cooking the pasta later.
  3. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, strip off the skin and discard. Cut each in half, then squeeze out the seeds and pulp. Place the tomato halves in a food-processor bowl.
  4. Place the almonds in a pan over medium heat. Toast for about five minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly golden. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then add to the processor with the tomatoes.
  5. Add the garlic, Parmesan, basil, and salt, and process until combined. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until you have a smooth pesto.
  6. Return the pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well, then return the pot to the stove over medium-low heat. Place the drained pasta back in the pan, add the pesto, and toss until the pasta is coated. Heat until the pesto is warmed through, then serve.

↑ Back to Top

This article originally appeared as “Tomato Time” in the July/August 2023 issue.

Photography by: Terry Brennan; Food styling: Betsy Nelson
Robin Asbell

Robin Asbell is a Minneapolis-based recipe developer and cookbook author.

Thoughts to share?

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


More Like This

Back To Top