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Our garden is starting to yield the first of our tomatoes for the year. We are always looking for new ways to use them. Generally we have made salsa and pasta sauces (some for eating right away, and other for canning), but we're always interested in new ideas.

What ideas can you offer for ways to use fresh tomatoes?

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closed as too broad by rumtscho Aug 25 at 21:26

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11 Answers 11

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Sun dry them. They'll keep a while (especially if canned) and make a delicious addition to many dishes.

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Dried, they are easier to freeze as well. –  Adam Shiemke Jul 17 '10 at 17:58

There are two things I love with fresh tomatoes, especially in the summer: Gespacho and Caprese Salad.

Gespacho is a cold Spanish tomato soup. Cold soup may sound odd, but gespacho is incredibly refreshing when made well. My wife and I enjoyed a bowl of gespacho at a nice restaurant in Savannah, GA, when we were there for our honeymoon in July of last year. You can find plenty of recipes online.

Caprese Salad (or Insalata Caprese) is a simple Italian salad that's best enjoyed in summer. All you should need is sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella (make sure to get the big fresh chunky kind of mozzarella; if you are using fresh tomatoes, do it right and use other fresh ingredients as well!), fresh basil, and olive oil. You can find plenty of pictures online for possible suggestions of how to present it.

I'm jealous of your tomato garden. Best of luck with whatever you come up with!

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A little balsamic vinegar on a caprese salad is great. –  Ocaasi Aug 3 '10 at 5:02

If you'd like to preserve them for to enjoy in the winter, the easiest wayis to simply wash, dry, and then place them in a freezer bag and freeze for later use. Once they are thawed the skin will slip right off and then you can seed and dice, puree, or do whatever you normally would have done.

Additionally, for extra flavor you can first smoke them and then freeze for future use in a soup, sauce, or salsa.

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In a 9x13" baking pan, quarter 4 pounds of tomatoes, 2 onions, 1/2 cup olive oil, plus salt and pepper and any herbs you like (I use basil and oregano). Roast them in the oven at 450 for 2 hours, stirring every half hour. When finished, run it through a food mill, and you'll have wonderful roasted tomato sauce to use on pasta or bread.

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@stevenmusumeche that's a sort of "bruschetta"..rather than onions i would suggest you to try scrubbing garlic straight on the pan. –  systempuntoout Aug 3 '10 at 7:24

Summer salsa is our favorite use for tomatoes from the garden. It's similar to Caprese Salad.

Slice lots of tomatoes into a big bowl, and add fresh basil leaves, a chopped clove or two of garlic, and fresh mozzerella cheese (doesn't have to be fresh, but fresh is best). Pour some olive oil on top -- not too much -- and let the bowl sit for a few hours in the fridge, maybe cover it with saran wrap or a plate. Stir every so often, to keep everything coated in oil. (Go easy on the oil, you an always add later.)

Boil up some pasta. Rigatoni or penne work well, anything that's not stringy like angel hair or spaghetti. (Otherwise the leftovers don't keep as well.) Drain the pasta and dump it all into the tomato-cheese-basil-garlic-oil mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Yummy!

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You could prepare them as cases to hold meat mixtures or salads. It's best to use firm tomatoes for this purpose. Slice the tops off the tomatoes, hollow them (reserving their pulp if you've a use for it), lightly salt the insides of the tomato cases, and then invert them for about 20 minutes to drain.

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The first thing is to use as many fresh tomatoes as possible. They will taste better than what you can get in the store any time of year, so enjoy them while you can.

Salsa, tomato salads, regular salads, BLT's, roasted tomatoes, etc.

If you have way more than you can stand to eat fresh, then think about canning whole tomatoes, making a large batch of sauce and freezing it, tomato soup, etc.

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  • Tomato juice

Blend fleshy tomatoes with sugar, and water to get a thinnish juice. Strain through a sieve else the skin gets in your teeth.Pour into tall glasses with ice-cubes. If you like, add salt, pepper and put in leaf of fresh basil. This is very cooling in summer, and hydrating too.

  • Sliced tomato peppery salad

Slice tomatoes into thin slice, arrange them on a plate/tray.Finely chop red onions, grate carrots, and chop some coriander.Sprinkle the mixture of onion, carrots and coriander on each slice of tomato.Sprinkle salt and pepper. Add a dash of honey all over if you like it sweet. This tastes great as a side dish.

  • Cooling tomato-yoghurt

Beat plain unflavoured yoghurt with some water into a smooth paste. Add a pinch of salt and bti of sugar to beat the sour taste. Finely chop tomatoes, cucumber,red onions, and green chillies and grate some carrots.Go easy on the green chillies, or you'll end up with a fiery yoghurt instead of a cooling one :-) Add all the chopped and grated stuff into the yoghurt mixture. This tastes good as a side dish with spicy main dishes.

  • Tomato chutney

Blanch, peel, puree the tomatoes. Keep aside. Take a clean, fine muslin (or any other thin cloth) and make a poultice of whole black peppercorn, nutmeg, cloves,and cinnamon, peeled garlic cloves, a piece of ginger all together in the cloth. Tie up the cloth tightly so the ingredients dont escape. Put the tomato puree on a boil on stove top. When you get it boiling, sink the cloth poultice into the boiling puree and let it be. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. The sauce thickens gradually into a chutney losing all its moisture, besides imbibing the lovely flavours from the spices. Once done, let it cool, and then remove the poultice and squeeze the jusices back into the chutney to use up the flavours. Store in sterlized glass containers and use with bread, or as an accompaniment.

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Pizza Margharita! Sliced tomatos, basil and mozarella.

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Cut them thick, brush with olive oil, grill them on medium-high heat for 1 minute per side. Eat.

Straight into the blender, add crushed garlic, a slice of onion, hot sauce, a scoop of horseradish, lemon juice, and some salt. And some vodka.

Rough chop. Toss them into a pan with crushed garlic, basil, olive oil, and green peppers for a fresh pasta topping.

Heat a soup-pot with butter. Add cubed tomatoes. Let sit until hot through. Mash up the tomatoes and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Right into a blender with some fresh sage and thyme. A little salt. Straining optional. Incredible tomato soup.

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Tomato Sandwiches: Use 2 slices of good hearty bread for these - I like a dense multigrain bread best. Spread cream cheese on one side and top with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt & pepper or your seasonings of choice. Add some greens if you like - fresh leaf lettuce is perfect; for more intense flavor, arugula is great. Alfalfa sprouts are also good. Sliced avocado is wonderful. Top with the other bread slice and that's it. You can put anything you want on this sandwich - think of it as a bacon-free BLT...I just love the combo of the tangy juicy tomatoes and the smooth creamy mildness of the cream cheese.

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