Perhaps you’ve already excitedly made gazpacho and pico de gallo and maybe even prepared a batch of red sauce for the freezer, but those perfectly ripe (and fresh) summer tomatoes at the market sure are tempting. So you lug home another few pounds of them, unable to resist but without a plan. Good news: New York Times Cooking has plenty. Below are more than a dozen recipes that put the quintessential fruit of the season front and center, so you won’t have regretted following their call.
The nostalgia of eating a juicy tomato, sliced and tucked between slices of mayo-slathered country bread, preferably over the sink, is undeniable. Perhaps the suggestion to make a tomato sandwich is an obvious one, but it’s also a mandatory one. Apart from the essential ingredients, Melissa Clark recommends rubbing a little garlic on the toasted bread and drizzling on a bit of olive oil before topping the tomato with some thinly sliced white onion and bacon slices. But don’t stop there. Sliced avocado, a drizzle of chile crisp and a smearing of fry sauce instead of mayo would be equally welcome modifications.
A pound of sweet cherry tomatoes freshens up the classic clam sauce treatment in this light and bright weeknight pasta from Kay Chun. The sauce is simple: Tomatoes are briefly cooked in olive oil, salt and pepper before adding thinly sliced garlic and clam juice to the mix.
This showstopping tart may look like dessert, but it’s a decidedly savory dish, thanks to the tangy combination of cherry tomatoes and Kalamata olives. Melissa Clark suggests picking up tomatoes in a variety of colors, which would make for a more stunning mosaic (if that’s even possible).
Recipe: Caramelized Tomato Tarte Tatin
This vinaigrette from Yewande Komolafe is a not-so-subtle way of evoking summer in whatever dish you pair it with. Charring tomatoes only deepens their sweetness, and sherry vinegar brings out their acidity. Use this to dress up just about anything: simple salads, roasted or grilled meats, and fish to name a few.
For an easy, breezy dinner off the grill, use a couple of pounds of your favorite tomato variety as a bed for salty, burnished halloumi, as Ali Slagle does in this recipe. The heat of the cheese draws out the tomatoes’ juices for a light sauce that’s ready to be sopped up with grilled bread.
Recipe: Spiced Grilled Halloumi
Eating the summer’s best tomatoes on grilled toast may not seem like a novel idea, but it’s really the best one there is. In this recipe from David Tanis, the Catalonian mainstay is topped with regular tomato slices and cherry tomato halves, creating what can only be described as the boss of tomato toasts.
Recipe: Pan Con Tomate
Panzanella is nothing if not an ode to summer, a means of compiling the season’s bounty of heirloom tomatoes, basil and cucumbers into one vibrant dish. This version, adapted from Gabrielle E.W. Carter, goes a step further and incorporates sweet watermelon in both the salad and the vinaigrette.
What better way to complement tomatoes’ sweetness and acidity than by dressing them in a punched-up concoction that’s salty and spicy? In this recipe from Alexa Weibel, the dressing of lime juice, fish sauce, coconut oil, chile, garlic and sugar is inspired by Thai papaya salad, and does wonders in rounding out the refreshing but mellow flavors of tomatoes and cucumbers.
What sets apart this bruschetta? The quick, garlic-infused oil that’s stirred into the tomatoes and basil, replacing the traditional step of rubbing a raw garlic clove on toasted bread. There’s plenty of time to make it, too, as Ali Slagle recommends letting the salted chopped tomatoes drain for up to two hours for maximum flavor.
Recipe: Tomato Bruschetta
In many places, tomato season also happens to be avoid-the-oven-at-all-costs season. Thankfully, you can make this recipe from Sarah DiGregorio without raising the temperature in your home by 15 degrees. Let this compote burble on your kitchen countertop during the day, and you’ll have a jammy, savory spread for your ricotta toast or to mix into your pasta by dinnertime.
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Tomato Compote
By now, you’re probably sensing a theme: Pile tomatoes on toast! But if you’re in the market for a more substantial way to do that, look no further than this recipe from Alison Roman. Buttery, garlicky shrimp make this fast and flavorful dish feel a little fancy.
For those who are down to cook — but not too much — consider this seasonal recipe from David Tanis, which makes the most of ripe red tomatoes. This risotto is an impressive vegetarian main, especially when finished off with colorful slices of heirloom tomatoes.
Recipe: Tomato Risotto
In writing about this tart, Vallery Lomas describes heirloom tomatoes as “like many of us — fragile and prone to bruising.” But don’t judge them by their bumps and nicks, she adds. “Inside, there’s robust flavor and sweetness to be savored.” Marinate on that while this custardy, flaky pesto-layered tart bakes!
Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Tart
For those who’ve wished that their caprese salad were a little more hearty, a little more dinner-worthy, allow us to introduce you to this riff on the classic. Add roasted peppers, capers, olives and prosciutto, as David Tanis does, and you have a meal capable of transporting you right to the Italian coast.
Recipe: Caprese Antipasto
For a lip-smacking summery salad, ruby-red tomatoes and juicy peaches are a dream team. In this recipe inspired by Italian caprese salad and Japanese hiyayakko, Hana Asbrink pairs the fruit with tender mounds of chilled silken tofu and showers it all in an umami-rich soy-balsamic dressing. Fresh mint and basil complete a dish that’s best enjoyed on the hottest of days.