Forget all you know about salads, sauces, and sandwiches. Our curated collection of fresh tomato recipes is a veritable varietal showcase of this seasonal favorite. From new twists on classic caprese to surprising spins on side salads, these tomato recipes delight all summer long!
- Fresh Garden Tomatoes are Magic
- How to Pick a Fresh Tomato
- Picking the Right Varietal for Fresh Tomato Recipes
- What are Heirloom Tomatoes?
- Tomatoes and Pasta – Perfection!
- Mains and ‘Maters
- Meal-Worthy Salads with Tomatoes
- Vegetarian Tomato Dishes
- Fresh Tomato Side Salads
- Fresh Tomato Recipes for Salsas, Sides, and Salads
- Fried Green Tomatoes
Fresh Garden Tomatoes are Magic
My lifelong love affair with fresh summer tomatoes has taken me on some pretty incredible food journeys. From the joy of biting into one with just a sprinkle of salt to the joy of a midsummer caprese salad to the joy of a late summer fried green tomato, the intensity of my joy never varies, even if the tomatoes do.
I’ve been experimenting with recipes for fresh tomatoes for as long as I can remember.
- Figuring out what the best roasting times and temps are in cherry tomato recipes to get them to *pop* perfectly…
- Selecting beautifully colored heirlooms so that my galettes are a work of edible art.
- Turning ugly, unloved rejects into velvety soups and sauces…
This collection doesn’t stop there… and neither will I. I’m sure I’ll spend the coming months finding even more ways to use more fresh tomatoes than any one person should, but for now, I hope you enjoy my very best tomato recipes.
How to Pick a Fresh Tomato
Bland, mealy, or mushy, a bad tomato is a crime against summer. Fresh tomatoes are a must for our best of the best tomato recipes so keep your eyes, nose and fingers at the ready when choosing.
Color isn’t always an indicator of a great tomato, although color does matter. Look for skin that’s deeply hued and mostly uniform. Here’s a few more things to look for when selecting ripe tomatoes:
- Slightly shiny skin (not matte) that’s smooth and free from blemishes.
- A ripe tomato is plump and feels heavy for its size. It should give just a little when gently pressed; if it’s hard, it’s not ripe yet.
- Ripe tomatoes smelly slightly sweet; if they have no aroma, move on.
Try to source directly from a farm or farmer’s market for the freshest, “just picked” tomato possible.
Picking the Right Varietal for Fresh Tomato Recipes
The varietal doesn’t matter as much as freshness does for many of these recipes. Your goal is to take advantage of all of the natural sugar in juicy, ripe fresh tomatoes to make these recipes shine. But, not all tomatoes are alike, and some are easier to work with depending on the recipe.
- Grape and cherry tomatoes are a go-to for salads (use ’em whole or sliced), skewers, and roasting/baking. Not only do they hold up better to the heat (even when they burst) but they get delightfully sweet and are a great way to complement the umami flavor from mushrooms or root vegetables.
- I prefer to use medium-sized tomatoes, like Roma or on-the-vine, when I need smaller cuts for certain salads or diced tomatoes for certain salsas. These are great for non-tomato centered salsas (corn, black bean, avocado, etc.). Their sturdy walls make for easier removal of seeds and pulp, and are therefore easier to dice and chop.
- We love a big boy! Beefsteak is best for slicing (sandwiches, burgers, etc.) and salads that call for a chunkier cut. I also rely on beefsteak tomatoes for fresh tomato-forward salsas when you need a good balance of flesh and juice.
- Heirloom tomatoes vary in size and color, but one thing is certain – they are the most rich in flavor. They perform well across the board, but I go with heirlooms when tomatoes need to be the star of the show and aren’t competing with anything strong in the flavor profile.
- If you’re making fresh tomato sauce, you really can’t go wrong with any medium or large tomato, but I lean towards heirlooms for their flavor.
What are Heirloom Tomatoes?
“Heirloom tomato” is a term used to describe a varietal that is “grown from seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation, hence the name ‘heirloom.’ They are direct descendants of the plants that produced the best fruit, meaning farmers had the ability to select for everything from juiciness and size to shape and color.” (Southern Living)
They are – in my (and many others’) opinion – the best tasting, sweetest, juiciest tomatoes you can find. Heirlooms are not your typical grocery store “prefect” round, red tomatoes, and they can differ drastically in shape, size, color, and taste. But they also don’t suffer from any of the adverse effects associated with hybridization.
I try to only use heirlooms when they’re at peak season and readily available at our local farmer’s market, but if you want to showcase fresh tomato flavor (Tomato Galette, Tomato Bacon Salad, or even our Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce, to name a few), these should be your tomato of choice.
Tomatoes and Pasta – Perfection!
There’s no need to save pasta for picnics once the weather gets warm. These recipes with fresh tomatoes bring full pasta satisfaction while keeping the dish light and bright.
Family favorite alert! Caprese is a quintessential summer flavor combo. Juicy, fresh cherry tomatoes. Bright, sweet basil. Briny fresh mozzarella cheese. Toss with whole wheat penne and Italian sausage for a protein packed twist on the classic.
Fresh tomato pasta sauce is a deeply flavorful, ridiculously easy, and incredibly versatile. This homemade marinara is an easy summer recipe that takes less than 45 minutes!
If you’re crazy for caprese, then caprese pasta salad is your new summertime staple. Marinate pasta in zesty homemade basil vinaigrette, then load up with ripe cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and ribbons of fresh basil
Mains and ‘Maters
Nobody puts tomatoes in the corner! From chicken to steak, fresh tomatoes can make a meaty main into a meal to remember.
One of our most popular, most prepared fresh tomato recipes ever – and for good reason. No complicated techniques or ingredients. Just juicy, charred chicken topped with briny fresh mozzarella, sweet tomatoes, and peppery basil, finished with a drizzle of sweet aged balsamic. Perfection!
Bruschetta levels up from appetizer territory in this suppertime spin on a classic. Grilled chicken (or baked – your choice) plays host to fresh diced tomatoes, basil and a tangy balsamic glaze in this quick and easy main dish conversion.
Before grilling, use salt to tenderize lean flank steak – and save some for your tomatoes too! Pair bite-sized cuts of the beef with ripe, seasoned cherry tomatoes. Dip your skewers into a vibrant (dairy-free) parsley pesto for a quick and easy summer dinner. Pro tip: Kids love ’em too!
The best breakfast sandwich can’t be purchased from a drive-thru. I know this because I have made the perfect Breakfast BLT right at home. It’s all about the balancing act – golden brown bread, crispy bacon, leafy greens, a perfectly cooked egg and, you guessed it, super fresh tomato slices.
Fresh tomatoes are stuffed with quinoa, spinach, bread crumbs, cheese, and fresh herbs in this healthy, modern twist on a classic.
Meal-Worthy Salads with Tomatoes
Leafy greens are great… but it’s garden-fresh tomatoes that really make these crave-worthy summer dinner salads colorful, beautiful, filling, and so, so delicious.
Make a meal outta this classic side salad. Combine ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and briny mozzarella with leafy greens, creamy avocado, and grilled chicken to create a super simple dinner the whole family will feel good about after winding down an active summer Saturday.
What goes great with bacon? MORE BACON! Know what also goes great with bacon? Tomatoes. This salad-spin on the classic sandwich features lots of L + T. Skip mayo in favor of a tangy, salty homemade dressing – you’ll still get a kick of creaminess from ripe avocados.
This is one of my favorite dinner salads of all time – shawarma-seasoned chicken is incredibly flavorful, and pairs beautifully with garden-fresh tomatoes. Toss greens with fresh mint and parsley, crunchy cukes, and red onion, and top with tangy tahini dressing.
Vegetarian Tomato Dishes
Tomatoes take centerstage in each of these dishes. Be it main, side, or snack, each of these fresh tomato recipes uses different varietals in different, delicious ways.
Just a few simple ingredients – heirloom tomatoes, ricotta and parmesan cheeses, and fresh herbs – are pure culinary magic in this simple galette recipe. Round out the meal with a simple, fresh salad of tossed greens.
Both versions of this easy summer meal are super fast and seriously delicious – but one happens to be one of my favorite cherry tomato recipes (with burst cherry tomatoes and fresh basil). Bonus recipe for homemade ricotta linked inside – it’s quicker and easier than you think!
Mother nature does most of the heavy lifting here, but the real trick to perfect sheet pan roasted vegetables is in the technique. Learn all you need to know, especially how to handle roasting fresh tomatoes so they’re perfectly-popped and not massively mushy.
A filling meal doesn’t get any easier than Mediterranean Chickpea Salad. Naturally vegan and super quick (just 20 minutes!) this versatile chickpea salad is packed with fiber, protein, and rainbow of healthy vegetables, including lots of fresh, diced tomato.
With or without grilled cheese, this beloved classic blows the lid off its canned counterparts. Our version features slow-roasted fresh tomatoes and garlic with a peppery kick of garden-fresh basil. Since it’s pureed, it’s a perfect way to use up ripe tomatoes on the softer side.
Fresh Tomato Side Salads
Each of these easy side salads bring out the absolute best in fresh tomatoes. From fresh basil to peaches to bacon, you’ll find flavor profiles to fall in love with this summer in my favorite salads with tomatoes.
This easy summer tomato salad is a staple in our house for good reason – juicy ripe tomatoes need little more than a splash of olive oil, salt, and ribbons of fresh basil to shine. But we like it extra special, and dress it up with bacon vinaigrette and chunks of thick cut bacon.
Toss ripe heirloom tomatoes with peaches, cherries, nectarines, and plums for a surprisingly sweet and juicy side salad that lightens up any meal. Top with fresh basil and serve alongside fresh burrata cheese.
This textbook summer side salad screams “Hello Fresh!” The key to nailing this simple salad is balancing perfectly peak-fresh veggies – juicy ripe tomato, crisp cucumbers, and buttery avocado. Dress with macerated red onions in a honey-tinged vinaigrette. Big on flavor, not on fuss!
This sweet summer spin on classic caprese is ready in 15 minutes. Less if you’re skilled with a blade. Heirloom tomatoes and peak-ripe peaches balance perfectly together! Fresh mozzarella, even fresher basil, and a splash of balsamic put you – and this tomato salad – in rockstar territory.
Fresh Tomato Recipes for Salsas, Sides, and Salads
These versatile fresh tomato side dish recipes are some of our favorites for weathering warm weather. They’re prefect for picnics and prep, so you can share – or snack solo – freely.
Every bite of this salsa is an epic mouthful of summer. Tender fresh corn kernels are pan roasted with poblano peppers, then tossed with diced fresh tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, and red onion and seasoned with lime juice. Perfect on chips or even over grilled chicken!
We love adding these into rotation as soon as fresh local tomatoes become available. The bruschetta stuffing with diced tomato lasts in the fridge for several days. Drizzle a little aged balsamic over these stuffed avocados and you’ll have a gourmet healthy snack or appetizer in minutes!
This simple tomato salad recipe is made with diced cantaloupe, heirloom tomatoes, mint, and basil and tossed with an apple cider vinaigrette. It’s naturally paleo and gluten free, ready in just 15 minutes, and popping with all of the best flavors of summer.
This easy summer side features ripe juicy tomatoes and fresh sweet corn, straight off the cob. Combine with cucumber, avocado and fresh basil, then tossed with a creamy, tangy buttermilk dressing. Ready in just 30 minutes!
Few recipes are quicker, easier, and more satisfying in the summertime than a simple bean salad. This healthy, vibrant version features fresh juicy cherry tomatoes. It doubles easily and holds up well at room temperature so it’s also an ideal recipe for picnics and BBQs.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried green tomatoes are a classic southern summer tomato recipe that (YES!!!) you absolutely can make yourself. When making these fried green tomato recipes, you can use green heirlooms (like green zebra) or wait for late-season green beefsteaks to become readily available.
It’s rare that anything would steal the spotlight from bacon – especially on a BLT – but the real star of this crispy, crunchy, umami packed sandwich is the fresh home fried green tomato. Butter lettuce and sprouts give it cool, crisp texture.
They’re easier than you think! Our gluten free version is made with cornmeal and buttermilk, then pan sautéed until golden and crispy in a cast iron skillet. Nutty and crispy on the outside, meaty and tender on the inside.