We’re all about seasonality with our food, whether it’s at home cooking for ourselves or for one of our weekly clients or at a private dinner party. It’s truly the way nature intended: cook what is freshest, in season and available to you. That’s all there is to it, and there’s really no excuse otherwise. Tomatoes in particular have a relatively short season, true diehards may tell you that they are only great in August and every other month is a waste of time. While we may be past the point of no return on gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, sliced and served raw mixed into a salad or on a warm piece of crostini, we see no reason why we can’t enjoy tomatoes for a little while longer.
Our home is pretty divided: one of us is still clinging to flip flops, shorts and the last gasp of summer warmth, while the other is dreaming about apple picking, chilly fall nights, and all things pumpkin spiced. Whichever side of the fence you lean on, there’s still plenty of time to incorporate delicious tomatoes into your meal routine for the foreseeable future. Here are some ideas to get you going.
Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette
Great as a salad dressing of course, but really terrific with grilled or roasted seafood, pork or potatoes. Rinse and cut a pint of cherry tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven until the tomatoes have given off their liquid and are very soft, about 35-40 minutes. Cool slightly then puree in a blender with 1/4 cup sherry vinegar and a splash of fresh lemon juice.
Don’t put that grill away just yet (can also be done in a grill pan). Slice a large, firm tomato into thick slabs (beefsteak work really well) about 1 inch thick. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until lightly charred, about 2-3 minutes each side. Don’t cook them too long or they will turn mushy. Add to your next b.l.t. for a charred take on a classic, layer in between your next grilled cheese or add to your favorite burger.
The sky is the limit here. These are great as a main for a light dinner, side, or perfect for a picnic or potluck. Heirlooms or beefsteak tomatoes are your best bet. Slice off the tops of as many tomatoes as you’d like (1 per person) and scoop out the flesh of each one. Season with salt and pepper and stuff with your filling of choice. Some suggestions: cooked rice with fresh herbs and lemon, cooked ground beef with pistachios and fresh mint, or spinach with bacon and bread crumbs. Once filled add a generous pinch of cheese, such as parmesan or mozzarella and bake in a 375 degree oven until the cheese has melted and the tomatoes have softened, 12-15 minutes.
Marinated Tomato Salad with Watermelon, Za’atar, Mint, Cucumber and Lemon
One of our go-to salads all summer still has some life in our rotation and couldn’t be easier. Chop a couple of good tomatoes and mix will 2 cups chopped watermelon, freshly chopped mint or basil, a dusting of za’atar (available in Middle Eastern markets and specialty grocery stores, 1 sliced cucumber, the juice of one lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with a good pinch of salt and stir to combine. Allow the flavors to blend together for about 20 minutes before serving. Makes for a great lunch or a side dish with dinner with simply cooked chicken.
Katie and Richard Chudy are professionally trained chefs who own the personal chef and catering company, The Skinny Beet. They are also both food writers and each just came out with their first cookbooks, Superfood Sandwiches and American Burger Revival, respectively.