Tomatoes may be the prime example of a food where you can simply pop one in your mouth for full-on deliciousness (such as baby specialty tomatoes) or slice one (with heirloom tomatoes) and then do the same. You might want to add a touch of salt or fresh basil to get fancy!
Here’s something else pretty amazing about tomatoes that you might not have considered. Every stage of its life represents an opportunity for a meal, from green tomatoes to overripe ones—from pickles to marinara.
“Plus,” Chef Jamie Simpson of the Culinary Vegetable Institute shares, “you can also use one wherever you might otherwise use a squeeze of lemon or add it to a broth you’re making.”
Deliciously Simple Tomato Preparation Tips
In the midst of our conversation about tomatoes with Jamie, he needed to take a quick break to talk to Chef Tristan Acevedo—who had just finished grilling small round tomatoes. “He grilled them hard,” Jamie said, “and they will be so flavorful.” The team is also blending together tomatoes, onions, peppers, and garlic for a taco salsa.
“Tomatoes actually pair nicely with citrus ingredients,” Jamie continues, “but we usually use them to balance ingredients with fat, such as braised pork or buttered veggies. They’re also amazing in vinaigrettes and emulsions, rounding out these dressings in a wonderful way.”
You can also put a tiny score on the top and bottom of whole tomatoes and then quickly blanche them in water or use a fryer. When done, immediately transfer them to an ice bath, which removes the skins to create a pure textural experience with the tomatoes.
Here’s one more preparation tip. “Right now,” Jamie says, “I’m looking down a huge barrel of tomatoes that we’ll can in order to make a very plain, unseasoned sauce. In a sense, we’ll basically be removing the water for pasteurized storage. And when don’t have any other flavors attached to the tomatoes, you can tailor it however you want when you’re ready to use the canned sauce.”
Jamie appreciates this technique so much that he’s cooking down 30 jars at his own house to prepare for deliciously easy dinners throughout the year.
- Smoked Tomato Soup
- Tomato, Bell Pepper, and Rice
- Squash Blossom Tomato Herb Focaccia
- Fresh Heirloom Tomato Zucchini Salsa
- Tomatoes in Garlic Confit
- Panzanella Salad
- Farm Fresh Salsa
- Summer Succotash
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
We’ve included information on the topic in our Guide to Fresh Tomatoes at The Chef’s Garden’s blog (along with other info about flavor, nutrition, and more that you might find useful and interesting). We refer to a Healthline.com article that shares how tomatoes are a “major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits.”
We also cite studies that show how lycopene can decrease risk of stroke in men while a lack of it can increase the risk of heart attacks in males. Other studies demonstrate how the substance can reduce bad cholesterol and also lower risks of certain cancers: prostate, lung, stomach, and breast. Plus, tomatoes can help to protect your skin from the sun.