4 recipes with ripe and juicy tomatoes to give your summer a little sauce

juicy tomatoes
Year after year my husband "complains" that we grow too many tomatoes. But year after year, I point out that there aren't too many tomatoes.

It's such a short season and a vine-ripened tomato is one of the greatest culinary gifts. First, there's the most basic summertime pleasure: Putting a ripe tomato straight from the vine in your mouth and letting the sweet, sun-warmed juices roll down your shirt because it's August and who cares? Then there's the very simple summer treat: a tomato sandwich (lightly toasted white bread, a layer of mayonnaise, fresh basil leaves, salt, and pepper) followed by a month of ice-cold tomato-based gazpacho, hot tomato soup, salads, toasted tomato sauces, pasta sauces, fried fish with tomatoes, sautéed seafood with tomatoes, tomato pies, galettes, and crostatas. Do you understand what I mean? Of course, there aren't too many tomatoes.

I get together with some friends and clean out the canning equipment, roast all those garden tomatoes in a hot oven (early in the morning or on that rare chilly August or September day) with garlic, herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil, then set down the sweet sauce in mason jars for a winter of great meals. I love roasting cherry tomatoes - red, yellow, orange, round, oblong - in a low oven, swimming in an olive oil "bath" with lots of fresh herbs, and using the tender tomatoes all week long for pizza toppings, salads, and as Base to use a simple sauce or toppings for grilled fish or meat.

And then there's an open-faced sandwich called a tartine, which layers thin slices of tomato with ripe peaches on a herb-lemon-ricotta mixture on top of a toasted crusty baguette. And my latest recipe: tomato tonnato. You may have heard of Vitello tonnato, a classic dish of thinly sliced ​​veal in a tuna sauce that hails from the northeastern Piedmont region. I'm reimagining using the ripest tomatoes in season instead of meat.

Tomato shopping

Look for a variety of tomatoes and cherry tomatoes at farmers' markets and markets that buy their tomatoes from local farmers. You may come across the term heirloom tomato, which simply indicates that the variety of seeds used to grow the fruit is older and has been passed down from generation to generation. Unlike mass-produced supermarket tomatoes, which all look the same but offer very little flavor, these "older" seed varieties are valued more for their flavor than for their perfect, uniform appearance. They come in all colors, shapes, and sizes, and while they're more expensive, they're worth seeking out for their incredible juiciness and flavor profile.

Once you get the tomatoes home, you'll want to store them ambient, stem-side down. Ripen tomatoes in a single layer; If you stack them on top of each other, they're more likely to rot. According to an article by Sarah Kaplan in The Washington Post, the cooler refrigerator temperature can slow the ripening process, but it "also affects chemical compounds that give tomatoes their flavor."

Cherry tomato confit

Cherry tomato confit
Tomato confit. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

The French word confit means "to conserve". In this case, ripe cherry tomatoes are roasted very slowly in a “bath” of olive oil with fresh basil, garlic, salt, and pepper. The tomatoes will keep, covered, and refrigerated, for over a week and can be served on pasta (see below), as a garnish for fish, chicken, and vegetable dishes, salads, or simply on toast or crackers. And the tomato oil is ideal for salad dressings, tossed with pasta, or drizzled over cooked fish and seafood.

Ingredients

1 ½ pound ripe cherry tomatoes, red, orange, and yellow if possible

1 cup olive oil

¼ cup basil leaves, very coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves thinly sliced

salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a large gratin dish or casserole dish with a rim.

Roast on the middle shelf for 40 to 55 minutes, or until the tomatoes are bursting and quite tender and the oil is sizzling slightly.

Take it out of the oven.

Let cool and store in a covered container or mason jar in the refrigerator for at least a week.

Linguine with cherry tomato confit, basil, pine nuts, and arugula

cherry tomato
Linguine with cherry tomato confit, basil, pine nuts, and arugula. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

One of my favorite ways to use cherry tomato confit is in this super quick easy pasta dish.

For 2 to 4 people.

Ingredients

1 pound spaghetti, linguine or bucatini
1 ½ cups cherry tomato confit, recipe above
salt and pepper
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, very thinly sliced
¼ cup pine nuts, optional
½ cup arugula
About ⅓ cup grated parmesan

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Add the pasta and cook according to directions, depending on the pasta type you chose, or until al dente or not quite soft. drain.
Place the drained pasta in a large serving bowl or plate. Garnish with the cherry tomato confit (and a few tablespoons of oil), basil, and pine nuts, and toss gently. Sprinkle with rocket leaves and parmesan. Serve hot.

Tomato tonnato

Tomato tonnato
Tomato tonnato. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Think of this dish as a deconstructed tomato and tuna sandwich. This is my take on the Italian classic Vitello Tonnato, which features slices of rare veal served over a tuna sauce. In this version, I use ripe garden tomatoes instead of meat. The tuna sauce is whipped up in a food processor or blender in minutes, then topped with the thinly sliced ​​tomatoes—the more varieties you use, the better. Serve with a warm baguette or crusty bread.

Served 4

Ingredients

The tuna sauce:
  • A 3-ounce can of tuna in olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 large lemon
  • 1 to 2 anchovy fillets, optional
  • 1 tablespoon canned or bottled anchovy oil, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Tomatoes and garnish:
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes or 2 tomatoes and 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes. Use yellow and red tomatoes if you can, very thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons basil leaves, left whole if small, or coarsely chopped or sliced ​​if large
  • Nasturtium or other edible flowers, optional

Instructions

  1. Make the Sauce: In a food processor or blender, toss the tuna (as well as all of the olive oil in the can) with the garlic.
  2. Add mayonnaise, heavy cream, capers, lemon juice, anchovies, and anchovy oil if using, olive oil, and pepper. Stir until almost a smooth sauce.
  3. Place in a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  4. To Serve: Using a soft spatula or the back of a round kitchen spoon, spread the tuna sauce onto a medium-sized platter, arrange the tomatoes on top and garnish with the basil and edible flowers.

Heirloom tomato, peach, and herbed-lemon ricotta tartine

Heirloom tomato
Heirloom tomato, peach, and herbed-lemon ricotta tartine. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Tartine is the French word for an open sandwich. In this easy summer recipe, slice a baguette into 3- to 4-inch pieces, cut in half, and lightly toast the bread with olive oil, then spread with a herb and lemon-scented ricotta. The topping: thin slices of red, yellow, and orange tomatoes or cherry tomatoes and ripe summer peaches. Garnish the tartine with fresh basil and, if you like, a very small dash of honey to enhance the sweetness of the tomatoes and peaches. Serve with a summer salad for breakfast, lunch, or a light dinner.

For 4 to 8 people.

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk ricotta
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh herbs, finely chopped, such as basil, parsley, chives, thyme, etc. (the more varieties the better)
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 French-style crusty baguette or 4 large slices of crusty bread
2 large ripe tomatoes or 8 to 12 cherry tomatoes, red, yellow, and/or orange, thinly sliced ​​(may need to be cut in half depending on bread width)
1 large or 2 small ripe peaches, very thinly sliced
About 1 ½ tablespoon honey, optional
2 tablespoons fresh basil, very thinly sliced ​​or if small leaves are left whole

Instructions

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of oil, herbs, lemon, salt, and pepper to taste.

Prepare the toast: Cut the baguette into 4 equal pieces. Cut each piece in half. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the baguette slices, cut-side down (crust-side up), and toast for about 3 minutes or until golden.
To serve: Place the toasted baguette slices, cut-side up, on a serving platter. Spread the ricotta mixture over the slices and spread in a thin layer. Top with the tomatoes alternating with the peach slices. Sprinkle the top with basil and a dash of honey if you like. Season with salt and pepper.

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