We wait for sweet, juicy summer tomatoes all year long, and finally they’re here. Celebrate them with these pro tips, plus some new recipe ideas from the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen, then check out our Tomato Guide for more!
Look for: For the best summer tomatoes, visit farm stands, farmers’ markets and natural-food stores for vine-ripened tomatoes, or grow your own. Choose organic tomatoes, if possible, as they are likely to be more flavorful. When fresh tomatoes are out of season, use canned (or packaged) imported plum tomatoes, usually called Italian tomatoes. They will have a much better flavor than will poor-quality fresh ones.
Prep tips: Store ripe tomatoes at room temperature for up to 3 days. If they are slightly unripe, put them in a sunny place for several days, and they will ripen further. Although whole tomatoes should not be refrigerated, cut tomatoes, wrapped in plastic wrap or waxed paper, should be refrigerated.
Wash and dry tomatoes first. Cut out the stem end and leave the tomatoes whole or cut them (crosswise or lengthwise) into slices or into wedges, or chop, according to the recipe. Pull off the stems of cherry tomatoes. Here’s your tomato toolkit:
- Tomato Hullster, for quickly and easily removing tomato cores
- OXO Tomato & Grape Cutter, to slice cherry and grape tomatoes into perfect quarters
- Zyliss Soft Skin Tomato Peeler, for gently peeling tomato skins without damaging the delicate fruit
- Zyliss Tomato Slicer, for portioning tomatoes into neat, uniform slices
- Happy Cat Farm Heirloom Tomatoes Seed Collection, to grow your own tomatoes
- Italian Tomato Press, for pressing fresh tomatoes into sauce
Uses: Purists enjoy tomatoes sliced thickly and served with just a sprinkling of coarse salt. Pureed into soup, layered in sandwiches, tossed into salads, simmered for pasta or roasted for salsa, tomatoes add color and flavor to our table in a multitude of delicious ways. They are also ideal for canning and preserving, so you can enjoy a taste of summer all year long.
Gazpacho: Coarsely chop tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and bell pepper. Puree in a blender until smooth. In a bowl, stir minced garlic, vinegar and olive oil into the puree. Chill before serving.
Panzanella: Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Saute with olive oil until crispy. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss toasted bread with chopped tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, basil and vinaigrette.
Heirloom Tomato Salad: Cut heirloom tomatoes into wedges. Toss with fresh tarragon, crumbled goat cheese and fresh corn kernels, either raw or blanched. Drizzle with champagne vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil and toss to combine.
Oven-Dried Tomatoes: Stem, quarter and seed plum tomatoes. Arrange cut-side up on parchment-lined baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Roast at 200°F until slightly shriveled, about 4 hours. Pack cooled tomatoes in a canning jar with thyme sprigs and olive oil; refrigerate up to 1 week.
Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes: Toss together diced tomatoes, minced shallot and garlic, slivered basil, shaved pecorino romano, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Top with drained cooked pasta. Let stand a few minutes before tossing.
Tomato & Basil Tart: Place a puff pastry rectangle on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Top with thinly sliced tomatoes, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper; brush the pastry with egg wash. Bake at 400°F until pastry is golden, 25 to 30 minutes, and garnish with slivered basil.