One of my favorite parts of summer is vine-ripened tomatoes. There are few things more delicious than a tomato that is still warm from the summer sun. If you've already eaten your weight in tomato sandwiches, canned tomatoes for this winter's cooking, and would like a few different ideas, here are few that I'm sure you'll enjoy.
While tomato season often signals the end of summer, these recipes will make sure you can enjoy the flavors of the warmer months all year long.
Instead of simmering a tomato pasta sauce for hours on these hot summer days, consider a no-cook tomato sauce for pasta that has lovely chunks of fresh tomatoes bursting with flavor. Make sure you use a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes and types of tomatoes for the best results. If at all possible, use at least some heirloom varieties. They will add an enormous depth of flavor to this dish.
Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce
Serves: 6 to 8
2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, preferably heirloom varieties in a mix of colors and shapes
3 to 4 plump cloves, garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or more or less to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup or more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or cubed fresh mozzarella cheese
Rinse the tomatoes, drain and wipe dry. Cut out the core and other tough parts. Working over a big mixing bowl to catch all the juices, cut the tomatoes — cherry tomatoes in half; regular tomatoes into 1-inch chunks — and drop them into the bowl.
Smash the garlic cloves with a chef’s knife, and chop into a fine paste (easier if you add some of the salt as you chop; mash the garlic bites and salt with the flat side of the knife, too). Scatter the garlic paste and the rest of the salt (1/2 teaspoon in all) over the tomatoes and stir gently. Pile up the basil leaves and cut into thin strips; you should get about 3 tablespoons.
Scatter these over the tomatoes, then sprinkle in the hot red pepper flakes. Pour in the oil, stir, and fold, to coat the tomatoes and distribute the seasonings.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
Toss the marinated sauce with freshly cooked and drained pasta. Serve as is or toss in 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. For extra richness, add 1 cup or more cubed fresh mozzarella.
Broiled Tomatoes with Parmesan and Herbs
When you have those big ripe tomatoes that won't last another day, use them in this simple side dish. These are perfect with grilled chicken or seafood.
You'll need a few VERY ripe unpeeled tomatoes sliced about 1/4 inch thick. Preheat your broiler and place the sliced tomatoes on the broiling pan. Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Carefully cover the tomato slices with grated Parmesan cheese and then sprinkle with Herbs de Provence or a teaspoon or so of dried thyme or oregano. Place under broiler until the cheese begins to brown and bubble. Serve immediately.
Pico De Gallo
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
3 tablespoons finely diced jalapeños
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground cumin
Mix all ingredients and let rest for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle before serving. Eat with tortilla chips or use as a condiment for tacos or burritos.