25 Things to Do with a Fresh Tomato

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25 Things to Do with a Fresh Tomato

Post by Pixie » Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:24 pm

25 Things to Do with a Fresh Tomato
Quick recipes from the country's best chefs, plus a few of our own.
August 2009

Tangy, bright, and gloriously juicy, a ripe, in-season tomato is any cook's dream. We asked this year's James Beard Award-nominated and -winning chefs to share their favorite ways to use a tomato. Plus, we added several of our favorite recipes to the mix.

1. Fire Up Your Grill
Charred Heirloom Tomatoes with Fresh Herbs
Tomatoes at the peak of the season need only fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, and a few minutes on a hot grill. See these recipes with a full menu in our Tuscany on the Grill Cooking Club.

2. Make a Quick Sauce
James Beard Award Winner
Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas

"Vigorously mix all of the following together with a whisk, and be sure to bruise the tomatoes: 2 cups of quartered cherry tomatoes, 1/3 cup sliced red onions, 3/4 cup chopped arugula, 2 tablespoons chopped basil, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, one clove of garlic (smashed and chopped), 1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. You can serve this with baked fish, grilled fish, or roast or grilled chicken."*

3. Jazz Up Mac and Cheese
Pasta with Kalamata Olives and Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
When our Project Recipe bloggers, Chris and Bridget, reviewed this dish, Bridget commented: "Macaroni and cheese has many devoted fans: college students, children being babysat, me. Over the last couple of years it has even graced the menu of many upscale establishments. And although Bon Appétit calls this recipe Pasta with Kalamata Olives and Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce, you could also call it Farfalle and Feta."

4. Make "Puckery Fresh" Panzanella
James Beard Award Nominee
Five and Ten, Athens, GA

"I like to use all little heirlooms and hybrids, like Sweet 100s and little green Zebras. It's pretty simple. We just use basil, olive oil, really good Banyuls vinegar, Spanish anchovies, a touch of garlic, sea salt, and freshly toasted bread. Mix it all together and that's it. I love it when you make it half an hour ahead and just let it sit. Puckery fresh."*

5. Cure a Hangover
Al's Bloody Best
In The Unauthorized Biography of the Bloody Mary, Al Martinez shares his best Bloody Mary recipe, and the following advice:

"Begin by turning on music best suited for the occasion of a near-death hangover. A dirge is always nice. Then combine all these ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour into a tall glass filled one-third with ice, garnish with green olives, and upsy-daisy. If that doesn't work, light three candles, take a cold shower, drink hot coffee, lie flat, and moan. And next time, try to behave."

6. Make the World's Best BLT
Crispy Pancetta, Burrata, and Tomato Sandwiches
This is the new BLT: Pancetta replaces bacon, arugula stands in for lettuce, and heirloom tomatoes complete the twist. Plus, we've added burrata —an addictively creamy Italian cheese. Once you go burrata, you'll never go back.

7. Try an Iron Chef's Favorite Salad
James Beard Award Winner
Lola, Cleveland, OH

"I crave this salad in the summer with perfect Ohio heirloom tomatoes or tomatoes from my garden. It is my mom's recipe that I have been eating since childhood and is the sole reason I love to grow tomatoes. My wife, Liz, and I enjoy it almost every day for lunch and dinner.

Take half a red onion, shave it thinly and soak it in ice water for 10 minutes. Cut 1 pound of your favorite heirloom tomatoes into bite-sized chunks and set aside. Drain the onion and pat dry. Place a clove of minced garlic, a pinch of salt, and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle about 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil onto the mixture while whisking. Then add 1 chopped red pepper, thinly sliced cucumber (about 1/3 of a cucumber), 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, and 1/4 cup each of chopped dill and chopped mint. Let that marinate for 15 to 20 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and 1 cup of barrel-aged feta, crumbled. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place on a large platter and serve immediately. That'll serve about 4."*

8. Cool Down
Chilled Tomato-Tarragon Soup with Croutons
A delicious way to chill out, this light summer dish requires only 35 minutes of prep.

9. Make Pizza, Spanish Style
James Beard Award Winner
Amada, Philadelphia

Chef Garces uses fresh tomatoes in one of Amada's new summer menu items: Coca with Tomatoes Frescos y Ajo.

"Coca is a Spanish-style flatbread (similar to pizza) that's baked with sofregit sauce (a Catalan tomato sauce with caramelized onions, garlic, fresh thyme, olive oil, and tomatoes) and Manchego cheese.

After it's baked, the coca is topped with thinly sliced fresh tomatoes (they've been dressed with garlic, lemon, and oil), then topped with Mahon cheese and mezze sorrel (small leaves of red-veined sorrel that are essentially adolescent greens—larger than micro but not full-grown). ¡Sabroso!"*

10. Throw a Cocktail Party
Tomato and Tapenade Tartlets
Follow the one-bite rule: These quick tartlets are an ideal late-summer passed hors d'oeuvre. Plus, they are warmed in the oven for such a short time that the tomatoes never lose their fresh-picked taste and texture. For more great party apps try Crispy Bruschetta with Goat Cheese, Tomatoes, and Mint or Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Marinated Feta.

11. Make Ice Cream
James Beard Award Winner
Tilth, Seattle

"I like to make tomato ice cream. Take a vanilla ice cream recipe, whatever you're comfortable with, and add a homemade tomato paste. To make the paste, cut a tiny "X" in the top of a tomato. Add it to boiling water for 2 minutes. This makes it easier to peel. Once it's peeled, puree it in a food processor, then cook that down in a pan for about 20 minutes until it gets to a pasty consistency. Keep an eye on it; keep stirring it, so it doesn't burn. Let the paste cool, then just fold that into your vanilla-based ice cream. For a pint of ice cream you would cook down 4 tomatoes."*

12. Cook Dinner in 15 Minutes
Rosemary Trout with Cherry-Tomato Sauce
Our popular feature "15 Dishes in 15 Minutes" features recipes that get dinner on the table in just a quarter-hour. Serve this fast and healthy dish with tabbouleh, and check out our other 15-minute dishes, plus secrets of the quick chef.

13. Turn it into a Pasta Bowl
James Beard Award Nominee
Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA

"This year we're doing a pasta dish for which we take a tomato, core and seed it, then marinate it with Manni "Per Mio Figlio" olive oil and sea salt. We [make a confit of] the tomato at a low temperature to concentrate the flavor (put it in a muffin tin or other round mold, then cook it at 200°F for about 4 to 5 hours). Then we nest a basil tagliolini [long, paper-thin pasta usually less than 1/8-inch wide, also called tagliarini] inside the tomato shell, and use the core to make an ale-and-tomato sauce."*

14. Get Smart and Saucy
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Back when eating local was a necessity, not a choice, there was only one way to enjoy tomatoes out of season: preserved. More and more of us are starting to embrace the old-school tradition of canning, in the name of better food. And canning is easier than you think. Check out our easy guide to canning, and take an afternoon to put up some tomato sauce. Come winter, you'll be able to enjoy the harvest all over again.

15. Make a Chef's Go-to Snack
James Beard Award Winner
FIG, Charleston, SC

"I don't eat tomatoes at all when they are not in season, so in the summer I eat some version of this open sandwich several times a week...breakfast, lunch, dinner, but most often after work.

Start with artisanal bread, like well-made Tuscan, or a good French bâtard. Coat both sides of a slice of bread with olive oil and broil until crispy and chewy. Then rub with a garlic clove on one side.

Cut off the heel of an heirloom tomato and rub and squeeze the pulp onto the bread. Place fresh herbs on the bread...everything seems to work: basil, mint, oregano, etc. Then cut two meaty slices of the tomato and place on the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt and place it back under the broiler until the tomatoes are hot and softened. I finish the sandwich with a sunny-side-up egg, crumbled feta, olive oil, and cracked black pepper.

Pulling the tomatoes and herbs out of your garden makes this a particularly satisfying experience."*

16. Stuff It
Tomatoes Stuffed with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil
This clever presentation is perfect for a dinner party appetizer. A basil vinaigrette is served in a shot glass alongside each tomato; guests can drizzle it on to taste.

17. Go Molecular
James Beard Award Winner
Hugo's, Portland, Maine

"I like to make a tomato salad with basil and olive oil panna cotta. First, make the basil and olive oil panna cotta:

Crush 2-to-3 tomatoes by hand and strain in cheesecloth overnight to make 3/4 cup tomato water. Take 2 1/2 sheets gelatin and break them up into 1/4 cup cold cream. Grease a 6x9-inch cake pan, line it with plastic wrap, and set aside. Combine the tomato water, a pinch of crushed red pepper, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Whisk in 1/2 tablespoon powdered agar and pour it on top of 1/2 cup roughly chopped basil in a bowl. Strain the mixture into a blender. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 cup cream, and gelatin. Blend on high. Add salt to taste. Transfer mixture to a bowl and set it in an ice bath for 5 minutes, whisking continuously until cool to the touch. Pour mixture into the prepared cake pan and chill in the refrigerator. Once it's set, cut it into cubes.

Then peel and quarter your favorite tomatoes, toss with a lemon vinaigrette (2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 cup olive oil), season with salt and pepper, and garnish with basil leaves and cubes of olive oil panna cotta."*

18. Make "The Best Appetizer in Seattle"
Pomodori al Forno
Molly Wizenberg (a.k.a. Orangette) begged the chef at her favorite neighborhood restaurant, Seattle's Café Lago, to teach her how to make this simple baked tomato dish. Read about it in her Cooking Life column, "My Usual, Please". It is great on toasted baguette slices or tossed with pasta.

19. Cook a Quick Chicken Dish
James Beard Nominee
Coi, San Francisco

"When I'm home cooking, I want something fast, and I've got tomatoes hanging around, here's what I do: I'll sauté sliced onion in a little olive oil until it softens. Then I'll throw in tomatoes, capers, dried chiles, maybe a little lemon, and chopped olives. Then I'll throw in chicken legs, cover it, and either put it in the oven or simmer it on the stovetop. It should be done in about 30 minutes depending on the thickness of the legs and level of heat. Check for doneness by taking out a piece, turning it over, and cutting into it along the bone with a knife. The meat should be opaque or just barely pink, which is how I like it."*

20. Go Tuscan
Homemade Tagliatelle with Zucchini Flowers and Cherry Tomatoes
This delicate pasta is the first course of a menu shared with us by the Padovani sisters, two Tuscan winemakers who transformed a plot of fallow farmland into a successful working vineyard—where they also host beautiful dinner parties. See their menu and learn more about their highly sought-after wines and charming, rustic cooking style in The Super Tuscans.

21. Make Salsa
Tomato, Onion, and Serrano Chile Salsa
The bright flavor of the salsa adds sparkle to anything it touches—quesadillas; grilled chicken, fish, or steak; tamales; tacos; and, of course, tortilla chips. Get started now: Watch a video demonstrating this simple recipe.

22. Cook an Instant Side
James Beard Award Winner
The Modern, New York City

"Here's how I enjoy summer tomatoes: First I'll cook the piece of roasted fish or meat. When it's finished, I take it out of the roasting pan and let it rest. Then I cook a tomato in the same pan. Cut the tomato in half and put the halves face down in the roasting pan. Cook them in a 325° oven. It will take 3 to 5 minutes depending on the size. Take the halves out of the pan and flip them over carefully, then season with salt and pepper, and finish with some finely chopped garlic and some basil or parsley on top. Deglaze the pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and you have a nice little sauce with the drippings and some drops of olive oil. It's good and simple!"*

23. Have a Healthy Salad
Grilled Scallops and Nectarines with Corn and Tomato Salad
With its corn, tomatoes, basil, and unexpected nectarine, this wonderful recipe from Dorie Greenspan sings out "summer."

24. Make Restaurant-Quality Gazpacho
James Beard Award Winner
Cyrus, Healdsburg, CA

"We're spoiled. We have our own garden and my wife has 120 tomato plants in the ground already. She planted them at the end of May, and I think we'll see fruit from mid-July all the way through October, depending on the rain.

One of my favorite things to do with tomatoes is a play on gazpacho. I take all the traditional gazpacho ingredients—peppers, onions, garlic, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes—and blend them in a blender. Then we hang it in cheesecloth (actually we use aprons at Cyrus, but at home you'd use cheesecloth or a coffee filter) and let it drip over night. It drips this clear liquid, like a gazpacho consommé, which we season with red wine vinegar, red verjus, and salt. To plate it, we'll place blanched peeled cherry tomatoes in the center of the bowl, then pour the consommé around them. So you get all the robust, fresh flavor of gazpacho but none of the texture."*

25. Throw a Totally Tomato Dinner Party
Here's a menu that's totally tomato—from cocktails to gelato: Tolstoi Stoli Bloody Mary; move on to Grilled Shrimp with Cherokee and Oxheart Tomato Tartare; Grilled New York Steaks with San Marzano Sauce are the main event; and for dessert, Tomato, Basil, and Ricotta Gelati.

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