We’ve already shown you the myriad ways to get the most flavor out of your garlic and your onions, and it’s about time we hit upon one of our favorite summer ingredients: the tomato. If you’ve been limiting your tomato-prep rep to just dicing and slicing, you’re seriously missing out on all that this versatile fruit (yes, it’s technically a fruit!) has to offer.
All you have to do to get started is pick up a bunch of tomatoes (there are so many to choose from) get your essential kitchen tools together, and get ready to add a burst of flavor to every dish you make this summer (and beyond).
Slicing is one of the simplest ways to prepare a tomato, other than biting into it whole (people do this!). While thick-cut slices are a delicious companion to mozzarella, basil, and olive oil (hello, caprese), thinner slices are better for nestling into piled-high sandwiches and layering atop open-faced toasts. For the best results, make sure your chef’s knife is sharp—this will give your slices nice, clean edges and keep the pulp intact.
And if you’re slicing cherry tomatoes, this pro-hack will make your life infinitely easier.
Diced tomatoes are a great addition to salads, fresh salsas (link to pico de gallo piece), and bruschetta-style toasts. Just like with slicing, you’ll want to have an extra sharp knife ready before you dice—or else you’ll end up with a big, goopy mess.
There is a fine art to dicing a tomato—here are a few tricks.
Don’t get us wrong, we love fresh, raw tomatoes when they’re in peak season. But, when the season comes to an end and the days of fresh, ripe summer produce are behind us, we look to roasting to perk up our tomato haul.
Roasting tomatoes in the oven bring out a rich, deep flavor that lends a nice, hearty smokiness to any dish. You can roast any kind of tomato, but we like the juicy burst that comes from biting into roasted, halved grape tomatoes or wedges of plum tomatoes. Set your oven to 375F, coat your tomatoes in olive oil and a pinch of salt, and let the oven work its magic.
Yes, that’s right, you can grate your tomatoes like you would grate cheese, or garlic, or ginger. This technique is the perfect treatment for less-than-perfect looking tomatoes that may have been sitting on your counter for just a day too long, or gotten bruised in your shopping bag on the way home from the market. Grated tomatoes make a delicious base for pasta and pizza sauce, gazpacho, or even salad dressing.
To start, slice off one end of your tomato (bigger beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes work best here, but larger plum tomatoes can be used, too). Then, using a box grater, rub the cut-side of the tomato on the side with the largest holes until all that remains is the small round of tomato near the stem (be mindful of your fingers!) You’ll want to do this over a bowl, to catch all of the delicious tomato juices (and contain the mess).
Ah, the fried tomato, pinnacle of Southern food culture. We love you so. If you want to try making this delicious fried treat at home, note that frying works best with green tomatoes, which are actually unripe red tomatoes. This gives them their acidic taste—you’re not going to want to eat these raw. Once cooked (read: fried) they have a bright, tart, irresistible flavor. Add them to a summer sandwich, or eat them on their own!
Sautéeing tomatoes works best with ripe cherry or grape tomatoes—they break down gently as they cook to create a sweet, robust flavor and smooth texture, and the heat of the pan gives a nice char to the tomato skin. Try tossing sautéed cherry tomatoes into a garlicky pasta dish, layering atop avocado toast, or mixing into a warm grain bowl.
Boiling tomatoes is a great way to easily remove their skins for silkier pasta sauce and soups. Here’s how to do it: bring a large pot of water to a boil, and prepare a big bowl of ice water next to the stovetop. Destem and slice an X into the bottom of each tomato, making sure not to cut too deep.
Drop tomatoes into the boiling water for approximately 45 seconds, until the skins to start to wrinkle and split. Immediately scoop the tomatoes out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water bath. Once cooled, transfer the tomatoes to a cutting board, and peel back the tomato skins with your fingers. If you’re working with a large number of tomatoes, work in batches to ensure an even boil.
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