One Ingredient, Many Ways: Tomato
Credit: Todd ColemanNo other vegetable (or fruit, botanically speaking) is awaited with such eagerness or eaten with more reverence than the tomato. Every summer, things go a little crazy when the first tomatoes begin to blush on the vine, and then again when they appear at the farmers market. It's as if the rest of the growing season, with its virtuous leafy greens and heads of spicy garlic, is little more than a dress rehearsal leading up to that one rapturous, pulpy bite of tomato.
Along with peppers and eggplants, tomatoes are part of the notorious nightshade family. But their flirtation with poisonousness hasn't stopped tomatoes' centuries-long march towards culinary dominance. Hailing originally from the Andean region of South America, tomatoes arrived in Europe, via Spain, in the early 16th century and quickly spread from there. Today they are a foundational ingredient in cuisines across the world – as equally at home in Indian curries as in Italy's pasta dishes or Mexico's bright salsas.
Equally delicious simply sliced and dripping with a sprinkle of salt, or perched atop a thick piece of bread slathered with butter, tomatoes are the edible definition of summer. Now that heirloom varieties — with their coral, sunburst and fern-colored flesh and bumpy, juice-packed curves — have reentered our culinary consciousness, the possibilities for summer tomato worship have multiplied. These recipes capture the tomato's elegance and versatility. Try them now before the last of summer's most beloved fruit go into hibernation.
SweetTomato and Green Apple Jam
Sweet and thick with a kick of heat, this jam tastes great grilled chicken or fish, fried eggs, or on toast with sharp cheddar cheese.
Maple Syrup Roasted Tomatoes
These syrup-roasted tomatoes are so sweet and candy-like, you might just find yourself snacking on them for dessert — try them as a surprisingly sophisticated topping for vanilla ice cream.
Food52: Brandywine Tomato and Watermelon Granita
Two juicy summer fruits combine in symphonic harmony in this refreshing iced dessert.
SAVORYTomato and Cheese Pie
This rustic, layered pie may not be a looker, but the satisfying combination of crushed tomatoes and Peccorino Romano cheese more than makes up for its homey appearance.
This salsa contrasts the flavor of fire-roasted beefsteak tomatoes with that of fresh, raw tomatoes, a double dose of bright, sweet and smoky flavor.
This sublime sandwich is nothing more than bread, butter, salt and slices of perfect summer tomato.
Quick Fish Filets in Tomato Sauce
Fish filets are browned and then poached atop cherry tomatoes in this easy weeknight dish.
Pasta with Spicy Tomato Beer Sauce
Bock-style beer is the secret ingredient in this puttanesca-style pasta sauce, where tomatoes are a sweet counterpart to a variety of sour and briny flavors.
This light but flavorful liquid – made from nothing but finely strained tomatoes – is a subtle, flavorful base for cocktails. (Save the leftover flesh for homemade tomato paste!)
Gazpacho Bloody Mary
Yellow tomatoes are the star in this summery, veggie-laden take on the classic brunch drink.
Leah Koenig is a freelance writer and author of The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen. More at leahkoenig.com.