7 Smart Ways to Use Your Haul of Fresh Tomatoes

This superstar summer crop has returned at last.

Each year, tomato lovers wait impatiently for their brief season to swing back around. And once the summer sun has finally ripened the fruit to perfection, we load our grocery bags with tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Then we get cooking—or to enjoying them raw. But heat changes a tomato, as does salt, spice, how you slice them, and the addition of contrasting textures. Each small touch casts tomatoes in new light.

The good news is that tomatoes don't need much fuss. These minimal preparations reflect that—and will help you seize this year's tomato season. To find the best way to store tomatoes (wasting even a single one is tragic), check out our interview with a tomato farmer here.

01 of 07

Pico de Gallo

Easy Guacamole and Pico de Gallo
Dana Gallagher

With a bit of knifework, you can make this raw Mexican salsa of chopped tomatoes. Pico de gallo is a versatile condiment, one with range far beyond the tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas that might first spring to mind. Ingredients like lime, onion, and cilantro provide aromatics and acidity on the edges. The heart of the salsa: tomato's juiciness and refreshment.

Get the Recipe: Pico de Gallo

02 of 07

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs
Marcus Nilsson

Long-simmered tomato sauce expresses a delicious umami flavor, a spirit satisfying in its concentration. But red sauce made from fresh tomatoes? Different entirely. There is a clean lightness to sauce made from fresh tomatoes, a fragile quality that reminds you of the season's brevity and that the fruit grew from a garden or farm vine.

Get the Recipe: Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs made with Big Batch Fresh Tomato Sauce

03 of 07

Burst Tomato Toasts

Burst-Tomato Toasts
Marcus Nilsson

Leaving ripe tomatoes under the broiler brings out new qualities. Skins blister, blacken, and take on roasted notes. Juices gain deeper dimension. In a way, the summery sun-and-wind spirit of the tomato transforms into something with more gravity. Unite them with ricotta and grainy bread, and you have a vibrant toast.

Get the Recipe: Burst Tomato Toasts

04 of 07

BLT

BLT bar with toppings and sides
Marcus Nilsson

In the quest for new foods, we often forget old-timey eats that are already perfect. The BLT is one example. Thick rounds of bursting-ripe tomatoes are the sandwich's co-star, though they can be the main focus if you slice them thickly enough. For a new take on the classic, consider a BLT sandwich bar.

Get the Recipe: DIY BLT Bar

05 of 07

Fried Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes - mistake 7
"I planted tomatoes on the east side of my backyard. They bloomed, and then the flowers would fall off. According to friends, tomatoes need the morning sun, which was blocked by my fence. Who knew?" Laura StitesPlano, TexasGarden FixTomatoes are sun worshipers that thrive in direct sunlight. The plants need a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight, says Soler. Similarly, vegetable plants such as chiles and eggplants and most herbs should be planted in the sunniest part of your yard. Others, like lettuces and peas, can stand to be in shady areas. Tate Carlson/StockFood Creative/Getty Images

Green tomatoes are firm and acidic. These are qualities made for hot oil and breading, making fried green tomato a summer staple. (An added bonus is that green tomatoes are usually a few bucks a pound cheaper.) Slice unripe tomatoes into rounds, dredge them in breading, and fry them in a cast iron skillet for a hot snack or the filling of a sandwich.

Get the Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes

06 of 07

Spiced Tomato Chutney

Sweet and Spicy Tomato Glaze
Use this easy glaze as your house BBQ sauce, serve it as a dip, or use it to give ribs, chicken, or tofu a final layer of ta-da!  It’s made entirely of ingredients you likely already have on hand but here’s a tip: look for tomato paste in a tube. Instead of needing to transfer any leftover tomato paste from a can into a storage container, the tube stays fresh long term in the fridge and you can squeeze out what you need.Get the recipe: Sweet and Spicy Tomato Glaze. Victor Protasio

At one end of their range, tomatoes thrive in a sweet and spice-forward setting. If you want to travel in this direction, consider turning grape or other smaller tomatoes into chutney. This one with allspice, cinnamon, and brown sugar embraces the richness of tomatoes, which develops as ingredients meld over 10 minutes in a single saucepan.

Get the Recipe: Spiced Tomato Chutney

07 of 07

Tomato Salad Toast

crostini with tomato and mozzarella

You can savor a tomato in its simplest beauty in a few ways. Freshly picked and plain, for example, or right off the vine sprinkled with salt. A third way introduces a bit of Mediterranean sunshine: salt and a healthy glug of your best olive oil, letting the flavors of fresh tomatoes really speak. When going for a simple tomato snack this summer, mix up a tomato salad—and, if you like, serve over toasted crusty bread with fresh mozzarella.

Get the Recipe: Tomato-Burrata Toasts

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