Nothing against BLTs—in fact, they’re one of the best canvasses for peak, ripe-to-bursting summer tomatoes—but we all know how to make BLTs. And mozzarella-basil salads. And avocado-tomato toast. It’s when we want to switch up our summer tomato routine that we get stumped.
So as we typically do when we’re stumped, we turned to the experts: chefs, cookbook authors, and fellow writers who will share their outside-the-box uses for the tomatoes we can’t get enough of.
This is an unexpected and super simple, and can be made in the winter, too, since cherry and grape tomatoes are easy to find then. Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half; toss with soy sauce, a bit of dark sesame oil and basil or cilantro. If you can, let it sit at room temp for a bit before you eat it—it’ll deepen the flavor. —Mark Bittman, author of Dinner For Everyone
Living in Los Angeles, and having access to incredible tomatoes in the summer, we oftentimes found ourselves with an overabundance of tomatoes that we needed to use before they turn past their prime. One of my favorite ways to use these tomatoes is to make a tomato panade, or savory bread pudding, with super-ripe tomatoes, day-old rustic bread, and fresh herbs. Soak, eat, enjoy. —Amy Deaderick, executive chef at Downtown Sporting Club, Nashville
The Rutgers tomatoes from my backyard are so ripe right now, I could eat them like apples. But recently I’ve been adding at least a modicum of dignity to my tomato bacchanal: I slice one into four or five rounds and go wild with all my fancy-ass salts. You know, the pink Himalayan salt, the rosemary salt, the smoked Maldon someone gave you as a hostess gift. Take it from Samin Nosrat herself: “Salt really balances the acid in the tomato and the sweetness in the tomato and just makes it more tomato-y.” It’s a fun way to actually taste the differences between all those gourmet salts… and to eventually use them up. —Kate Bernot, managing editor, The Takeout
One of my favorite uses for super-ripe summer tomatoes is to burn them. I throw full sheet trays of them in the wood-burning pizza oven until they’re charred. Then as they cool, I toss them with white balsamic, Kalamata olives, garlic confit, basil and tarragon, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper. Serve it with a big ball of burrata and grilled bread. —Brian Malarkey, partner and chef at Herb & Wood, San Diego
Instead of a traditional Caprese with mozzarella, I use medium-firm tofu (Trader Joe’s regular is good) or spoonfuls of of silken tofu (Nasoya and Whole Foods are good brands). Add slices of ripe tomatoes, herbs like basil or shiso from my garden, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Sometimes I add a light drizzle of Chinkiang vinegar, a smoky dark vinegar from China that’s usually enjoyed with Shanghai soup dumplings. —Andrea Nguyen, author of Vietnamese Food Any Day
I never really get over my annual mania for tomato sandwiches, but when I force myself to vary my diet a bit, I make a batch of Smitten Kitchen’s raw tomato sauce. You grate a pound of tomatoes with a box grater, chop up two more pounds, and mix them with something acidic (lemon juice or red wine vinegar), garlic, salt, pepper, and cheese. The leftovers are magnificent. —Aimee Levitt, associate editor, The Takeout