Although I hate to see summer go, I’m always amazed by the lingering freshness of Northern California’s tomato crop. Thanks to our hot fall “summers,” the best tomatoes come at the end of September and well into the middle of October. Even Martha Stewart acknowledges this: in the September issue of her magazine, she shares tips for making the most of a late-season tomato bounty. Don’t subscribe to Living? Don’t worry! You’ve come to the right place. If your garden’s crop is flourishing, I’ve got eight recipes that will use up the last of those gorgeous red globes. So grab a basket and start picking, it’s time to savor tomatoes.
Tomato Toast With Basil Cream Cheese
Avocado toast better watch its back. There’s a new toast to take over Instagram and it involves ripe shiny tomatoes. Simply spread toast with basil cream cheese (don’t have cream cheese? Mayonnaise works just as well!), top with thick half-moons of tomato, drizzle with olive oil and season with a few fresh grinds of black pepper and flaky chunks of sea salt. Delish! Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or a late-night snack.
Have you already forgotten about your spiralizer? Grab that fancy little gadget from your cupboard and use it to make this sensational end-of-summer ratatouille. Spirals of onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers are combined with julienned eggplant and fresh herbs. Eat the ratatouille as is, toss with pasta, use as a topping for toast or pizza, or devour it my favorite way: with a fried egg on top!
Easy Pico de Gallo
When made with ripe in-season tomatoes, classic pico de gallo is unparalleled. Make a big batch of the tomato, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro mixture, then enjoy it the rest of the week. Serve with tortilla chips and margaritas, stir into soft-scrambled eggs with goat cheese, layer with pepper Jack in between tortillas to make quesadillas, or mix with greens and quinoa for a hearty salad.
Charred Caprese Sandwich
Every year, there is one recipe that ends up defining my summer. It’s a dish that I somehow can’t get enough of and end up making over and over again—because it’s that good. This year’s recipe? Bon Appetit’s charred Caprese sandwich. Grilled bread with a creamy herb spread, fresh mozzarella, and slightly warm pop-in-your-mouth tomatoes? Yes, please! Serve with a glass of unoaked Chardonnay, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
Mexican-Style Tomato Soup
Use sweet fresh tomatoes to put together this vegan tomato soup that’s seasoned with cumin, cilantro, and roasted red peppers. The secret ingredient? Coconut milk which makes the soup super creamy and provides a rich, velvety mouthfeel.
To preserve the fresh flavor of summer tomatoes, be like Martha Stewart and make tomato confit. Slowly simmer tomatoes in oil, garlic, and herbs until sticky, sweet, and tender. Transfer to glass jars and freeze for up to a year. In the middle of a cold winter’s night, use a jar to make a delicious pasta or soup.
Fish in Crazy Water
It may have a funny name, but Italian grandmothers have been making fish in crazy water for years. The crazy water is a mixture of aromatics, fresh tomatoes, and water. It cooks down and forms a concentrated, super-flavorful sauce for white fish. Serve with plenty of crusty bread for mopping up the delicious sauce.
Although it’s just five humble ingredients, nothing beats a traditional B.L.T. made with the best quality tomatoes, bacon, bread, and lettuce you can find. Slather on a dollop of mayonnaise and be sure to cut the tomato slices thick. Then sit back and enjoy one of the greatest sandwiches of all time.
What’s your favorite way to cook with tomatoes? Share your recipes in the comments below!