When they’re at their peak, tomatoes need nothing more than a bit of salt and pepper to highlight their sweetness, acidity, and flavor. Right now, market season is all about tomatoes, from imperfectly perfect heirlooms to San Marzano to sungolds — now’s the time to stock your kitchen while the getting is good.
We love a slapdash sandwich (complete with spongy white bread and tangy mayo) to eat over the sink as much as the next person, but there’s so much more to tomato season. (Just see what some of our favorite chefs did with their recent haul.)
We’ve put together a few of our favorite recipes that serve up summer on a plate. From a refreshing update on a classic cocktail to a modern celebration of Philly’s classic tomato pie, these recipes are sure to help you enjoy tomatoes at the height of the season.
— Joseph Hernandez
Tomato water martini
After blitzing and pureeing tomatoes, let the pulp rest over cheesecloth and a sieve to extract the near-clear, gentle yellow water. Lightly floral and vegetal, this liquid gold can be used in a number of applications, from dressings to this refreshing update on the classic dirty martini. Mixed with gin, vodka, or your favorite nonalcoholic spirit, this cocktail tastes like walking through a garden at sunset. And all that tomato pulp? Sauté it with some garlic, onions, butter, and cooked pasta for a quick-and-easy pasta dish.
1 pound tomatoes
Salt, to taste
Wash and dry tomatoes. In a food processor, puree tomatoes until finely chopped. Salt to taste — the flavor should be bright and vegetal, but not too salty.
Line a mesh sieve with wet cheesecloth and set over a large bowl. Transfer tomatoes to the sieve and wait 12 hours, or overnight. Alternatively, cover and put in refrigerator overnight. The following day, you may discard or compost the remaining solids, or cook down into pasta or other preparations. Tomato water can range from a pleasant blush hue to a soft pale yellow.
2 ounce gin or vodka
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce tomato water
In a cocktail shaker, add gin, vermouth, and tomato water. Add ice and stir vigorously until well-chilled, about 20 times. Strain into a chilled martini glass or coupe.
— Joseph Hernandez
Philly Tomato Pie
A classic Philadelphia tomato pie has a light, focaccia-like dough covered with spicy tomato sauce and sprinkled with Romano. We found this version on the website Serious Eats and have incorporated it into our repertoire. You can use tomatoes from your garden or fresh from the farmer’s market. — Jamila Robinson
For the dough:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
2 ¼ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons) water
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, roughly pureed in a food processor or blender (or about 3 ½ cups of fresh tomatoes)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 shallot or small onion
½ ounce finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Make the dough: Combine flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Whisk to combine. Add olive oil and water. Knead on low speed just until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Let dough rest for 10 minutes, then knead once more on low speed for 10 minutes. Dough should pull away from sides of bowl but stick to bottom.
Remove dough hook, cover top of mixing bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
Make the sauce: Heat olive oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-high until butter melts. Add garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, sugar, and whole shallot. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until rich and thick, about 25-30 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Allow to cool in fridge while dough rises.
Generously grease the inside of a 13- by 18-inch rimmed baking sheet with olive oil (about 3 tablespoons). Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Form into flat ball and transfer to baking sheet. Using your hands, coat the dough on all sides with olive oil. Loosely cover the baking sheet with plastic and let dough rise in a warm spot for 1 hour. The dough should spread out.
Carefully stretch and push the dough into the corners and edges of the pan. Cover loosely, and let rise for 1 hour longer.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. When dough has risen, use your hands to create a risen ridge about 1-inch wide around the edge.
Spread sauce generously over dough, leaving the raised 1-inch edge un-sauced. Bake until edges are light golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes total, rotating pan half way through baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle with Romano cheese, cut into slices, and serve.
Recipe from Serious Eats
Yields 12 gnudi, serves 3-4
For the gnudi:
1 pint whole cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup ricotta
1 egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour plus 4 cups, or more, to cover the gnudi
2 garlic cloves
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons kosher salt plus 4 quarts of water, for cooking
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
5 basil leaves
For the gnudi: In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add tomatoes, and cook until they release their juice and are lightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes.
In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, ricotta, egg yolk, and garlic with a spatula. Gradually add 1 cup of flour until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
Fill the bottom of an 8-inch glass baking dish (or any pan/container that’s at least 3 inches deep) with a 1-inch layer of flour. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the gnudi on top, one-inch apart. Gnudi should be roughly the size of a small ice cream scoop. Cover with the rest of the flour, or until gnudi is fully submerged.
Refrigerate for 24 hours. This builds a thin “skin” around the gnudi.
Pull gnudi out of the flour, and use your hands to roll into balls. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
In a large pasta pot, salt 4 quarts of water with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, start the sauce.
For the sauce: In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add tomatoes, and cook 2 to 4 minutes, until they start to release their juice.
Add ¼ cup of the pasta water, until the sauce becomes a pinkish color.
Cook gnudi in the salted water for 3 minutes. Gnudi should be hot in the center. Remove gnudi with a slotted spoon, and place in the butter sauce. Garnish with torn basil leaves. Serve immediately.
Courtesy Michael Griffiths of Helm
Tomato and Rice Soup
Makes 6 to 8 servings (about 9 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or extra-virgin olive oil
3 small carrots
1 medium onion
3 ribs celery
Freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons tomato paste, preferably double-concentrated
1 cup instant brown rice (uncooked)
8 cups no-salt-added chicken broth
2 bay leaves
One 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added plum tomatoes, with juice
3 ½ ounces baby spinach leaves
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil and schmaltz in a heavy Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat.
Meanwhile, scrub the carrots well. Peel the onion. Cut the carrots, onion, and celery into small dice (about 1 cup each), stirring them into the pot as you work. Season generously with salt and black pepper and the crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring a few times, until the vegetables begin to soften. Reduce the heat as needed if any of their edges begin to brown.
Clear a space at the center of the pot; add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant, then stir in the brown rice, broth, bay leaves, and the tomatoes and their juices. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes.
Uncover and discard the bay leaves. Use a potato masher to further break down the tomatoes and any vegetables. Taste, and add salt and/or pepper as needed.
Stir in the spinach leaves just before serving.
Adapted from Sicily: Recipes From an Italian Island (Hardie Grant Books, 2016)
Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin
Makes 4-6 servings
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large, sweet onions such as Vidalia or Bermuda, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and ground black pepper
5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ cup chopped, pitted, oil-cured black olives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1½ pints (about 1 pound) cherry or grape tomatoes (mixed colors look prettier)
Single crust for a 10-inch pie (homemade or purchased)
Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and oil, and tilt the pan around to coat it evenly. When the butter melts and the foam starts to subside, add the onions, toss to coat, and cover the skillet. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover the pan, raise the heat to medium, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir in 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are medium brown. If the onions stick to the skillet, stir to incorporate the browned juices into the onions. Transfer the onions to a platter and set aside. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Return the skillet to the stove, and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the remaining sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling the pan gently (do not stir) for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sugar melts and turns amber. Remove the pan from the heat, and sprinkle the caramel with the vinegar.
Scatter the olives and thyme over the caramel. Arrange the tomatoes over the olives, and then spread the caramelized onions evenly over the tomatoes. Top the onions with the pastry, tucking the edges into the sides of the skillet. Cut several 3-inch slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape.
Bake the tart for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Remove the skillet from the oven, and allow it to stand for 5 minutes. Cover a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the baking sheet on top of the skillet, holding the edge of the baking sheet and the handle of the skillet together with one hand. Use the other hand as a guide to turn over the baking sheet and skillet. Remove the skillet, and replace any tomatoes or olives stuck to the pan on the top of the tarte. Slide the tarte from the baking sheet to a serving platter with an offset spatula. Cut the tarte into wedges, and serve immediately.
From The New Cast Iron Skillet by Ellen Brown