Tempting Tomatoes—The perfect tomato for the perfect occasion

August 2012 View more


Whether you say “tom-may-to” or “to-mah-to”, we all agree that this time of year, tomatoes are never more delicious. Thanks in recent years to the discovery of their health benefits for fighting cancer and heart disease—to say nothing of their seemingly endless varieties of colors, shapes and sizes—tomatoes have never been more popular. But even with more than 6,000 varieties in the world, narrowed down to just a few in our local markets, how do we choose?

Tomato Assortment

If it’s juicy slices for sandwiches, or a dish featuring its freshest flavors you’re after, any variety of beefsteak tomato is your best bet, with heirlooms like Brandywine being the top of this most popular category. For thick, rich sauces and roasting, egg-shaped plum varieties break down beautifully but also hold their form well for canning and slicing. Cherry, grape, or pear tomatoes that pack big, super-sweet and tangy flavors, despite their small size, are ideal for salads, roasting and tossing with pasta.

With the latest craze for colorful, flavorful tomato dishes like versatile confit, chilled consommes, and zesty salsas, it’s hard to imagine a world of cuisine without them. Thankfully, we don’t have to.

Tomato Confit


12 plum tomatoes

6 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher or sea salt and ground pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 250F. Cut out stems and score opposite ends of the tomatoes with a sharp knife. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them, letting sit 15 seconds before draining and then plunging them in ice water.

When cool enough to handle, slip the skins off the tomatoes and halve down the middle, placing sliced-side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with thyme, add garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Bake two hours. Cool. Can be served on sandwiches, pasta, in tarts and stored up to a week in the refrigerator with olive oil from the baking sheet.

Chilled Tomato Consomme


4 1/2 pounds tomatoes

1/2 cup vodka

1 tablespoon grated horseradish

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 cup fresh basil

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 slice of red beet, for color (optional)

Directions: Place all ingredients, except beetroot into a food processor, and pulse until coarse puree. Arrange four layers of muslin cheesecloth in a deep bowl and pour in the tomato mixture. Tie up the corners of the muslin and suspend the bag from a refrigerator shelf with a bowl (containing a beet slice at the bottom) underneath it for 6-8 hours. Discard the beetroot. Serve chilled in a clear glass bowl garnished with a basil leaf and a few drops of very good extra virgin olive oil.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa


1 jalapeno

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

2-3 Roma tomatoes

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

2 scallions, finely chopped

Salt to taste

Directions: In ungreased skillet, roast the jalapeno and garlic for 10-15 minutes until slightly browned.

Cool, rough cut the jalapeno and peel the skin off the garlic. Pulse in a food processor until finely chopped. Over direct heat on a grill, place halved tomatoes (brushed with oil) and cook for 5-8 minutes. Turn and grill again until skin is charred. Place in a covered bowl to cool. Peel skins and dice (reserving juices). Add the tomatoes with their juice to food processor. Pulse to a coarse puree. Stir in the cilantro, red pepper, scallions and lime juice and season with salt to taste. Serve.