It’s that special time of year when tomatoes are everywhere we turn, piled up in farmers’ market stands and spotlighted on all the restaurant menus. When they first reach their peak, we crave them at their simplest, often with just a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. But as the months pass, they begin to star in deeper, heartier dishes that are just as satisfying. Read on for our best tomato tips, plus our favorite late-summer recipes.
Look for: For the best autumn tomatoes, visit farm stands, farmers’ markets and natural-food stores for vine-ripened tomatoes, or grow your own. Cherry and heirloom tomatoes, along with many hybrids, grow especially well into fall. Store ripe tomatoes at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Prep tips: Wash and dry tomatoes to be sliced. Cut out the stem end and leave the tomatoes whole or cut them into crosswise or lengthwise slices or into wedges, or chop, according to the recipe. Pull off the stems of cherry tomatoes. Some recipes call for peeled and/or seeded tomatoes, usually when the tomatoes are to be chopped for a sauce — here’s how to do it.
Uses: At the end of the season, tomatoes are especially delicious roasted or pureed into sauces and soups, though fresh ones add brightness to hearty salads. Try our recipes below!
|Toasted Bread with Caramelized Tomatoes and Ricotta
In Italy, a favorite snack is a thick slice of bread rubbed with tomato and seasoned with olive oil and salt. Here, that satisfying combination is enhanced with creamy fresh ricotta and roasted cherry tomatoes.
|Heirloom Tomato Salad with Roquefort
This colorful salad combines juicy summer tomatoes with assertive Roquefort cheese and a trio of refreshing herbs.
|Roasted Tomato Soup
In this recipe from Chef Ray Garcia, roasting further concentrates the flavor of these tomatoes, which are then pureed into a rich, flavorful soup.
|Bread Salad with Charred Tomatoes, Cucumber and Olives
Salty Kalamata olives are the perfect match for smoky-sweet charred tomatoes, herbal-tinged cucumber and crusty bread cubes in this creative salad.
|Baked Tomatoes with Tuna, White Beans and Bread Crumbs
A hollowed-out tomato makes a perfect baking vessel. Here, tuna, white beans and bread crumbs form a hearty filling and create a beautiful dish.
|Cherry Tomato Ragu with Polenta
Cherry tomatoes collapse in a slow cooker, contributing to the rustic charm of this dish. The chunky ragù is also great spooned over grilled fish, chicken or pork or simply tossed with pasta.
|Spaghetti and Mussels with Tomatoes and Basil
Briny mussels, sweet tomatoes and pungent basil make a delicious accent for pasta in this light but satisfying recipe.
|Baked Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes, Herbs and Lemon
Here, baked cherry tomatoes make a sweet accompaniment to the chicken breasts that cook alongside, while lemon slices, tarragon and thyme add fresh flavors.
|Focaccia Pizza with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Arugula
This crispy crust pizza is adorned with two kinds of tomatoes: crushed canned ones for the sauce, and sweet cherry ones for the topping.
|Damaged Goods Gratin of Tomatoes, Eggplant and Chard
This dish from Deborah Madison layers tomatoes, eggplant and chard for a rustic, succulent side. Top on crusty bread slices to make it a meal.
|Baked Pasta Primavera
Colorful zucchini, yellow squash and cherry tomatoes nestle in this creamy pasta, brightened by lemon zest and fresh bread crumbs.
Perfumed with olive oil, wild thyme and garlic, ratatouille is the summer vegetable stew of Provence, cooked up when markets are full of peppers, eggplant and zucchini. Chopped ripe tomatoes form the base of the dish.
Featured Recipe: Flash-Roasted Tomatoes