Tomatoes are like many fleeting seasonal things — summer heat, snow and thunderstorms, for example. You crave the very first taste, but an overabundance can become a bit overwhelming.
If you've ever had too much ripe fruit bursting from your garden or purchased a startlingly cheap basket of tomatoes at the produce market, you know that tomatoes are fragile things. Leave them out on the counter for more than a few days, and they turn to mush. For that reason, nearly every tomato grower has a sauce recipe under his or her sunhat. Either that, or neighbors who happily accept July and August's often aggressive tomato windfalls.
Enterprising tomato aficionados eventually learn the trick to never tiring of summer's ubiquitous nightshades: Get creative.
In Atlanta, where tomatoes benefit from the summer heat as readily as peaches, local chefs gather together for a food and music festival called Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, after the infamous B movie. There, culinary talent turns out creative dishes that help work both the sweet and savory sides of tomatoes, minimizing palate fatigue.
So it is with these five recipes. Even though they all share a common ingredient, they're different enough to warrant a full tomato tasting menu, should you feel so inclined.
What do you do with your summer tomatoes? Let us know in the comment field below.
This is an unusual way to use tomatoes. Acidity from the vinegar
mellows the sugar, making a balanced sauce that works well on grilled
foods, particularly pork chops. If you're proficient at canning, this is
a wonderful treat to stow in the pantry for the cold, dark days of
winter. Long after grilling days are done, serve this jam with roasted
(makes about a quart)
This is a refreshing treat that some may find a bit on the unusual side. This granita, which is basically an easier version of sorbet, has a fresh, clean flavor and makes a gorgeous palate-cleansing course, or even a not-too-sweet dessert. This can be prepared up to one day ahead of time, but is best when just frozen. Serve in a chilled martini glass and add an extra splash of Sprite to make a refreshing mocktail. Be aware that fizzy Sprite can easily froth up and cause a mess in your blender. Work in small batches, or work with flat Sprite. (serves 6-8)
Bruschetta is basically garlic toast with toppings. It makes a great snack for pop-in guests, especially since it's as easy as it gets, yet packs a good bit of 'wow' factor. To make it truly easy on yourself, serve this bruschetta topping with crackers or store-bought crostini, melba toasts or flat breads. Or, make garlic toast (instructions below). (serves 4-6)
This dish is somewhat of a lazy man's gazpacho. And truly, nothing could be more satisfying on the dog days of summer, when laziness is basically the order of the day. You may leave out the Old Bay Seasoning in this recipe, but we feel that the mild spice and savory flavor add the perfect kick to this soup, which only seems to get better the longer it sits. (serves 2-3)
This takes the natural pairing of bacon and tomatoes that makes BLTs so good, and substitutes fresh corn for lettuce. We think that fresh corn is arguably better with bacon than lettuce, though it's hard to argue with the classics. Serve this cold at a potluck. It makes a great side with burgers. (serves 2-3)