Some people say to-may-to, and others say to-mah-to. But no matter how you like to slice it, we are BIG fans of tomatoes. In fact, the special tomato that anchors our logo is there for a reason. Tomatoes are approachable and readily available to everyone – and a juicy, plump tomato is the symbol of a flourishing summer garden.

The tomato may be a humble staple in the produce aisle, but there’s more to this red jewel than meets the eye. Tomatoes have seeds and blossom from a flowering plant, making them a fruit and not a vegetable. They are also rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that is good for the heart, as well as vitamins A and C, potassium and calcium. These beneficial vitamins and antioxidants are more available when you cook tomatoes.

So, as an ode to our namesake fruit, here is a round up of our favorite ways to let the versatility of tomatoes shine.

Roasting Tomatoes
A little bit of time in the oven can transform a tomato into a treat that is savory enough to be the headliner of your plate. This technique is easy and worry free, and the result can be used on a salad, in a sauce, atop of fish and so much more. But if you’re looking for something truly unique, try a roasted tomato pesto.

Roasted Tomato Pesto
Yields 1 cup

– 1 lb. large roma tomatoes (9-12), sliced in half lengthwise
– 1/2 cup almonds, toasted (You can also use walnuts or pine nuts.)
– 2 garlic cloves
– 1 cup basil (tightly packed)
– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 Tablespoons for roasting
– Sea salt and course black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil onto the sliced tomatoes, taking care to rub in the oil, and place cut-side up on baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Roast the tomatoes for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, keeping a close watch during the last 15 minutes so you don’t over-roast.
3. Reduce the oven to 325F and toast the almonds for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place 1/3 cup of almonds into a food processor and process until finely chopped. Remove and set aside. (You can also do this by hand, if you don’t have a food processor.)
4. With the food processor turned on, add 2 garlic cloves and process until finely chopped. Next, add the basil and process until finely chopped.
5. Add in the oil and 1 1/2 cups of roasted tomatoes and process until smooth. (You will have tomatoes left over.) Pulse in 1/3 cup toasted almonds then add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve over cooked pasta or use as a pizza sauce.

Blending Tomatoes
There are lots of reasons to blend tomatoes – juice and cocktails, salsa and soup. But one of our favorite summer traditions is a garden fresh Gazpacho! This warm weather treat is refreshing and the perfect way to celebrate the best produce the season has to offer. It makes a great starter before a meal, or a meal in itself (especially when served with warm cornbread).

Summer Ripe Gazpacho
Serves 4

– 1/4 cup fine bulgur (cracked wheat)
– 1 cup hot water
– 2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
– 1 small yellow onion, diced
– 1 small green or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
– 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
– 1 small jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded and minced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 cup chopped parsley
– 2 to 4 Tablespoons chopped basil
– 1 teaspoon bottled hot sauce
– 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 2 cups tomato juice
– 4 sprigs fresh basil or mint (for garnish)

1. Soak the bulgur in the hot water for about 30 minutes. Drain and discard any excess liquid.
2. Place all of the remaining ingredients (except for basil or mint sprigs) in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 5 to 10 seconds, forming a vegetable mash.
3. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the bulgur.
4. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
5. Serve in chilled bowls and garnish with sprigs of fresh basil or mint.

Slicing Tomatoes
The peak of summer also means the peak of tomato season, and a sun-ripened tomato can stand on its own as a culinary treat. So there’s nothing wrong with simply slicing a ripe tomato and devouring it in all of its raw glory. But, if you want to feed a crowd (or make it slightly more sophisticated), this simple tomato salad is the way to go.

Simple Tomato Salad
Serves 4

– 1 large heirloom tomato, sliced
– 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
– 2 Tablespoons finely chopped basil (You can also use cilantro or parsley)
– 1 cup of your favorite greens (optional)
– 1/4 cup purple onion, finely chopped (optional)
– Sea salt and course black pepper, to taste
– 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)

1. Rinse and dry greens and arrange on the plate. You want a simple, thin layer as the greens are a garnish to the vibrant tomatoes.
2. Gently toss the tomatoes with the basil, salt and pepper. Then transfer onto the bed of greens on the plate.
3. Sprinkle the onions on top of the tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil, if desired.
4. Serve and enjoy!


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