Lots of Things to Do with Tomatoes

Recipes from around the world
Moroccan Tomato Eggplant Salad
Tomatoes Provencal with Anchovy Persillade
Tunisian Pasta Sauce with Capers
Sicilian Gazpacho
African Tomato-Avocado Soup
Indian Tomato Chutney
Yucatan Charred Tomato-Mint Salsa
Mexican Tomato Lime Soup
Spanish Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Orange
Greek Stuffed Tomatoes
Italian Tomato Mozzarella Salad
Tomato Pesto

Salsas and sauces
Salsas for Canning
Hot Chile Salsa
Not So Hot Chile Salsa,
Tomato Taco Sauce
Thick Tomato Salsa
Tomatillo Salsa

Tips on Tomatoes

Pasta dressed with pig fat doesn’t sound very appetizing. But to 15th Century Italians, eating pasta with tomatoes must have sounded even worse. So Italians of that time continued to eat their staple food with the traditional greasy dressing even though tomatoes had recently become available – carried back by the first European explorers of the New World.


Heirloom tomatoes from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, San Francisco, Calif., July 23, 2005


Heirloom tomatoes and peppers from the farmers market in Flagstaff, Ariz., June 17, 2007, photographed among the ruins of cliff dwellings in nearby Walnut Canyon

For several centuries after their discovery, tomatoes were regarded by Europeans as poisonous. It wasn’t until the 18th Century that tomatoes caught on, though when they did, they caught on in a big way. Before long tomatoes were entrenched in Italian cuisine, writes Julia Della Croce, in Salse di Pomodoro, a book in which she recounts the slow-to-develop Italian love affair with tomatoes. In one of the first Italian cookbooks, published in 1765, a tomato-based dressing for pasta was hailed by the author as a “universal sauce” – a characterization that by now is quite true. Tomatoes star in the cuisines of many cultures.

Moroccan Eggplant Tomato Salad [top]

1 small globe eggplant
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, cubed
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon sugar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
fresh lemon juice to taste
lettuce leaves for serving
10 black olives for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Peel and coarsely cube the eggplant. Place the cubes on a kitchen towel and sprinkle them with salt. Let them stand for 15 minutes, then gently pat them dry.

3. In a 2-quart ovenproof baking dish, place the eggplant, tomato paste, tomatoes, paprika, cumin, olive oil, and garlic. Sprinkle with sugar. Mix all the ingredients well. Cover with aluminum foil, and cook until the eggplant in completely tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Stir once or twice while baking. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a little water.

4.Place the mixture in a serving dish and season with salt and pepper. Stir in enough lemon juice to obtain a light, tangy taste. To serve, top with black olives.

Source: The Vegetarian Table: North Africa

Tomatoes Provencal with Anchovy Persillade [top]

6 red tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped
3 slices day-old bread, grated to crumbs in a blender or food processor
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops off the tomatoes, turn them upside down and remove the seeds and pulp with your fingers. Lightly salt the insides and place them, cut-side down, on a wire rack for about 20 minutes to drain.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the garlic, parsley, chopped anchovies, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Moisten with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

3. Arrange the tomatoes in a shallow baking or gratin dish. Gently press the mixture into the tomatoes, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are very soft and the tops are browned.

Source: Markets of Provence: A Culinary Tour of Southern France, by Dixon and Ruthanne Long

Tunisian Pasta Sauce with Capers [top]

3 large tomatoes
8 unpeeled garlic cloves
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 teaspoons caper juice
15 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon harissa
1 jalapeno chili, seeded, deribbed, and minced (optional)

1. Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatoes on a lightly oiled baking sheet, and broil about 1 inch from the heat source, until the skins are evenly blackened. Set aside to cool. Broil the unpeeled garlic cloves until lightly browned on both sides. Five to six minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel, seal, and finely dice them. Place them in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Squeeze the tender garlic cloves out of their skins and mash them coarsely with a fork. Set a side.

3. Transfer the tomatoes to a serving bowl. Stir in the garlic, capers, caper juice, half of the parsley, one tablespoon of the olive oil, salt, pepper, harrisa, and optional jalapeno.

Source: The Vegetarian Table: North Africa

Sicilian Gazpacho [top]

4 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes
1 medium-size red onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups basil leaves
½ cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3 to 4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar (optional)
Basil leaves, for garnish
Cubed raw vegetables, such as cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, onion and zucchini

1. Cut up the tomatoes and puree in a food processor. Working in batches if necessary, add the onion, basil and bread crumbs and puree until smooth.

2. Transfer the tomato mixture to a fine-mesh plastic strainer. Using a wooden spoon, push the puree through the sieve. At the end, make a fist and scrub as much through as you can.

3. Season with the salt and sugar. Slowly stir in the oil, adding as much as you like. A Sicilian would like a lot. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Refrigerate for at least one day or up to one week.

4. Just before serving, taste and adjust the seasoning. Add vinegar to taste. Put some ice cubes in the soup if you like. Decorate with whole basil leaves and serve. Pass the vegetables and croutons.

Source: The Flavors of Sicily: Stories, Traditions and Recipes for Warm-Weather Cooking, by Marchesa Anna Tasca Lanza di Mazzarino

African Tomato-Avocado Soup [top]

3 lb tomatoes peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 avocado, mashed to a puree
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
salt and pepper to taste
hot pepper sauce
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded and diced

1. Puree tomatoes in a food processor or food mill, then press through a sieve to remove seeds. In a large mixing bowl, beat the pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, buttermilk, and oil. Toss pureed avocado with 1 tablespoon lemon juice to hold the color. Add the avocado, remaining lemon juice, and parsley to the tomato mixture; stir to mix well.

2. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and a generous number of drops of hot pepper sauce. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

3. At serving time, taste soup for seasonings. Ladle into individual bowl and have guest garnish their portions with cucumber and sour cream. Pass hot pepper sauce around to add more piquancy.

Indian Tomato Chutney [top]

8 medium size ripe tomatoes
½ cup vinegar
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 dried green chili peppers
2-inch piece green ginger, peeled
2 cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt

1. Peel, seed and slice tomatoes and place in saucepan.

2. Reserve ¼th cup vinegar and add the rest to the tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are soft.

3. Grind together the garlic, Chile peppers and ginger. Mix with the reserved vinegar and add to the tomatoes along with the sugar and salt.

4. Cook until the mixture thickens, then cool and chill.

Source: The Tomato Book

Mexican Tomato Lime Soup [top]

3 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
46 ounces tomato juice
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
¼ cup lime juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce to taste
2 cups baked tortilla chips, coarsely crushed

1. In a soup pot on low heat, sauté the garlic and cumin in the oil for a minute. Be careful not to brown the garlic.

2. Stir in the tomato juice, fresh tomatoes, lime juice, and cilantro. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for several minutes. Add hot sauce to taste.

3. Place the tortilla chips in large, shallow soup bowls, and ladle the soup over them.

Yucatan Charred Tomato Mint Salsa [top]

3 Roma (plum) tomatoes, pan-roasted until blistered, deeply browned, and soft
1 thick slice medium-sliced white onion, pan-roasted until brown and soft
1 medium-sized clove garlic, pan-roasted until brown and soft, then peeled
2 serrano chilies with seeds, roughly chopped
12 fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
3 large fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon toasted and ground cumin
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon kosher salt

1. Chop together with a knife or food processor the tomatoes, onion, and garlic until you have a coarsely textured salsa.

2. Add the chiles, cilantro, mint, cumin, water, and salt. Process briefly to mix. This salsa should be chunky.

Source: La Parilla:The Mexican Grill

Spanish Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Orange [top]

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
2 cups cored and chopped tomatoes with liquid
pinch of cayenne or ½ teaspoons paprika
salt and black pepper to taste
1 orange, sliced

1. Put the oil in a 10-inch skillet or medium saucepan over medium heat. A minute later, add the garlic and cook, stirring and turning the cloves occasionally, until they are slightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato and stir, then remaining ingredients.

2. Adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until thick and quite tasty. Remove the orange, and serve hot.

Source: The Best Recipes in the World, by Mark Bittman

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes [top]

12 firm, ripe tomatoes
salt and granulated sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, or 3 scallions chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ pound lean lamb or veal, ground
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup water
5 to 6 tablespoons raw long grain white rice
Tomato juice, if necessary
Freshly ground pepper
2 sprigs fresh mint or basil
Pinch of grated nutmeg

1. Wash the tomatoes, then turn each stem side down, and with a sharp knife carefully slice a cap off the bottom, being careful not to detach the cap entirely. With a small spoon, scooped the pulp into a bowl, being careful to leave the shell intact. Place the tomato shells in a baking dish large enough to support them side by side. Sprinkle the inside of the shells with salt and sugar.

2. Meanwhile prepare the stuffing. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and add the onions. Cook over moderate heat until soft and transparent. Then add the garlic and parsley and blend. Add the meat, mixing with a fork. Then add the wine and water, cover, and simmer for a few minutes. Add the rice and tomato pulp and stir. Tomato juice may be added if necessary since the mixture should provide enough liquid for the rice to absorb.

3. Cover the skillet and simmer about seven minutes, then add salt, pepper, mint or basil, and nutmeg. Remove from the heat and fill the tomatoes up about two thirds of the way with the stuffing and liquid. Cover with tomato caps, brush with oil. Bake in a moderate 350° oven until the rice is tender, approximately 50 minutes to one hour, basting inside the tomatoes with liquid released by them. Serve warm.

Source: The Food of Greece

Italian Tomato Mozzarella Salad [top]

2 large ripe tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
4 oz (½ cup) mozzarella cheese, grated or cut into cubes
1 tbsp dried basil or 1 bunch fresh basil leaves chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ cup vinegar

1. Place tomatoes, cheese & basil in a serving bowl.

2. Place oil & vinegar into a jar, cover & shake well. You may also use a zip-lock bag or any other container with a lid that you can shake.

3. Pour oil & vinegar over the tomatoes & toss gently to mix.

4. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator to allow flavors to blend.

Suggestion: To enable the basil flavor to blend better, let the basil to steep in the vinegar overnight, then add the oil to the basil vinegar and shake.

heirloom tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market in Pasadena, Calif., Aug. 22, 2009

Tomato Pesto [top]

2 cups mixed herbs
2 cloves garlic
4 small ripe tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and ground hot pepper to taste

1. Combine all in a food processor and run until roughly chopped.

Source: The Flavors of Sicily: Stories, Traditions and Recipes for Warm-Weather Cooking, by Marchesa Anna Tasca Lanza di Mazzarino

Five Tomato Salsas Suitable for Canning [top]

If garden-fresh salsa is what you want to can from your tomato crop, you’re in luck. Some new recipes have been developed and tested by Val Hillers and Richard Dougherty from the Washington State University Cooperative Extension. Because salsas are mixtures of low-acid foods, such as onions and peppers, with acidic foods, such as tomatoes, it is imperative that they contain enough acid so that they may be processed safely in a water bath canner. This means that you can’t just invent your own recipe–you must follow a tested recipe. The same goes for salsas as for other canned tomato products. Use high quality tomatoes only–never overripe tomatoes or those that have seen better days.

You may use either paste tomatoes, such as Romas, or slicing tomatoes. Both make good salsas. But slicing tomatoes will yield a thinner, more watery salsa that paste tomatoes. Salsas may be thickened by adding tomato paste. You may substitute green tomatoes or tomatillos for the red type in any of these recipes. Tomatillos do not need to be peeled or seeded, but the dry outer husk must be removed.

Use high quality peppers. Do not increase the total amount of peppers in any recipe. However, you may substitute one type of pepper for another, such as a Serrano for a Jalapeno or a sweet pepper for a hot one. Wear plastic or rubber gloves when handling hot chiles.

The acid ingredients used in salsa help to preserve it. You must add acid to home-canned salsa because the natural acidity may not be enough in these mixtures. You may safely substitute an equal amount of lemon juice in a recipe calling for vinegar, but do not substitute vinegar for lemon juice. This substitution will result in a less acid and potentially unsafe salsa. Use bottled lemon juice and vinegar that is at least 5 percent acid.

You may alter the amounts of spices and herbs in these recipes. Cilantro and cumin are often used in spicy salsas. You may leave them out, if you prefer.

Information provided by the University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County and adapted from the USDA’s Agriculture Information Bulletin #539 and University of California Cooperative Extension Materials.

Hot Chile Salsa [top]

(makes 6 to 8 pints )

5 pounds peeled, cored and coarsely chopped tomatoes (about 10 cups)
2 pounds chopped chile peppers (about 6 cups)
1 pound chopped onions (about 4 cups)
1 cup vinegar (5%)
3 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and stir frequently over high heat until mixture begins to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Ladle salsa into hot pint jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Not So Hot Chile Salsa [top]

(makes 3 pints )

3 cups peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes
3 cups seeded, chopped mild long green chiles
¾ cup chopped onions
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-½ cups vinegar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano leaves
1-½ teaspoons salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Ladle into hot pint jars, leaving l/2 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Tomato Taco Sauce [top]

(makes 11 pints )

8 quarts peeled, cored, finely chopped paste tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
5 cups chopped onions
4 Jalapeno peppers, seeded, chopped
4 long green chiles, seeded, chopped
2 ½ cups vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
1 ½ tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin

1. Combine ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently until thick (about 1 hour).
2. Ladle hot mixture into pint jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Thick Tomato Salsa [top]

(makes 7 pints )

3 quarts peeled, cored, chopped slicing tomatoes
3 cups chopped onions
6 Jalapeno peppers, seeded, finely chopped
4 long green chiles, seeded, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 12-ounce cans tomato paste
2 cups bottled lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons oregano leaves
1 teaspoon black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Ladle hot into pint jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Tomatillo Salsa [top]

(makes 5 pints )

5 cups chopped tomatillos
1-½ cups seeded, chopped long green chiles
½ cup seeded, finely chopped Jalapeno peppers
4 cups chopped onions
1 cup bottled lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons oregano leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

1.Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and stir frequently over high heat until mixture begins to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Ladle hot into pint jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Tips on Tomatoes [top]

The Nose Knows Best: Fragrance is a better indicator of a good tomato than color. Roger Verge, proprietor of Moulin de Mougins restaurant in the south of France, goes so far as to say the smell of the stem tells all. “The stem should retain the garden aroma of the plant itself; if it doesn’t, your tomato will lack flavor and will be good only for decoration,” he writes in Roger Verge’s Vegetables in the French Style.

Flavor Enhancers: “A pinch of sugar will highlight their sweetness, while a few drops of lemon juice will give prominence to their acidity,” Verge asserts.

Better than Vine-Ripened: Toppling one of the central tenets of conventional tomato wisdom, Alice Waters offers this shocker in Chez Panisse Vegetables: The best tomatoes aren’t necessarily vine-ripened. In fact, leaving them on the vine until they are fully ripe actually decreases the sugar and acid content. “Experts say the very best way to ripen them is to pick them off the vine just as their color is starting to change from orange to red, and to keep them inside for four or five days, ideally at 59 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit,” Waters writes.

Never Do This: At least one rule might as well be etched in stone: Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator.

How to Dry Them: If you want to dry tomatoes–either in the sun or in an oven on low–count on about 17 pounds of field tomatoes for each pound of dried tomatoes that you desire.

How to Peel Them: To peel tomatoes, plunge them into boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds, then immerse them in cold water to keep the flesh from cooking. The skin will slip right off.

Liquid Bonus: Tomato “water,” the clearish liquid that dribbles out of a sliced tomato, can serve as a low-acidity stand-in for lemon juice, which is “ideal for marinating raw fish,” writes Frances Bissell in The Book of Food.

Quickest Way to Preserve Them: Looking for the simplest way to preserve tomatoes? Rinse them, spread them out on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight. Then put them in a freezer bag and return them to the freezer. Slip the skins off when you thaw them. Or, to save freezer space, peel the tomatoes, puree them in a blender, then strain them through cheesecloth or a coffee filter to drain off the water (which can be used as above or in soup). Freeze the pulp in ice cube trays, then store the frozen cubes in a freezer bag.

Forget About Tomatoes Come Winter: Avoid even the temptation to try tomatoes out of season. “Get your fill when local tomatoes are in season, then put your tomato recipes aside until next year,” advises Janet Fletcher in More Vegetables, Please.