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Food: 7 Smart Ways to Use Your Haul of Fresh Tomatoes

How to Freeze Tomatoes and Retire Your Can Opener

  How to Freeze Tomatoes and Retire Your Can Opener Our guide for how to freeze tomatoes will tell you everything you need to know so you can preserve your precious fruit (and leave canning to those who have a passion for it.)

Each year, tomato lovers wait impatiently for their brief season to swing back around. And once the summer sun has finally ripened the fruit to perfection, we load our grocery bags with tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Then we get cooking—or to enjoying them raw. But heat changes a tomato, as does salt, spice, how you slice them, and the addition of contrasting textures. Each small touch casts tomatoes in new light.

a table full of food: This superstar summer crop has returned at last. © Getty Images This superstar summer crop has returned at last.

The good news is that tomatoes don't need much fuss. These minimal preparations reflect that—and will help you seize this year’s tomato season. To find the best way to store tomatoes (wasting even a single one is tragic), check out our interview with a tomato farmer here.

Rebuilding America: Will grocery shopping ever be the same after the pandemic?

  Rebuilding America: Will grocery shopping ever be the same after the pandemic? What lies beyond depends on whether consumers or their finances ultimately change during the pandemic and once it ends. Industry officials wonder if Americans might keep cooking more at home. They also don't know how much a worsening economy will change consumer needs. "There is much we still do not know. How long will it last? How many lives will be lost or irreversibly changed? What will be the economic impact?" confided Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen to shareholders of the nation's largest supermarket chain in a May 12 letter.

Pico de Gallo

With a bit of knifework, you can make this raw Mexican salsa of chopped tomatoes. Pico de gallo is a versatile condiment, one with range far beyond the tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas that might first spring to mind. Ingredients like lime, onion, and cilantro provide aromatics and acidity on the edges. The heart of the salsa: tomato’s juiciness and refreshment.

Get the Recipe: Pico de Gallo

a plate of food on a table: Easy Guacamole and Pico de Gallo © Provided by Real Simple Easy Guacamole and Pico de Gallo

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Long-simmered tomato sauce expresses a delicious umami flavor, a spirit satisfying in its concentration. But red sauce made from fresh tomatoes? Different entirely. There is a clean lightness to sauce made from fresh tomatoes, a fragile quality that reminds you of the season’s brevity and that the fruit grew from a garden or farm vine.

A Budget-Friendly Canned Fish Dinner That Doesn't Rely on Tuna

  A Budget-Friendly Canned Fish Dinner That Doesn't Rely on Tuna Tired of canned tuna? This dinner costs less than $9 for four people, and encourages you to look beyond the chicken of the sea—but not too far beyond. Just, like, right next to it.So when our former editor Rhoda Bonne introduced this recipe using budget-friendly canned salmon—a product I hadn't previously tried—I was stoked. In it, Rhoda turns canned salmon into burger patties that she loads up with roasted red peppers and various other pantry staples. The burgers (which clock in at a bit over $2 each) are slightly sweet, salty, and rich, and since they're cooked in a pan on the stove, they're a great option if you're without a grill this summer.

Get the Recipe: Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs made with Big Batch Fresh Tomato Sauce

a box of pizza: Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs © Provided by Real Simple Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs

Burst Tomato Toasts

Leaving ripe tomatoes under the broiler brings out new qualities. Skins blister, blacken, and take on roasted notes. Juices gain deeper dimension. In a way, the summery sun-and-wind spirit of the tomato transforms into something with more gravity. Unite them with ricotta and grainy bread, and you have a vibrant toast.

Get the Recipe: Burst Tomato Toasts

a plate of food: Burst-Tomato Toasts © Provided by Real Simple Burst-Tomato Toasts


In the quest for new foods, we often forget old-timey eats that are already perfect. The BLT is one example. Thick rounds of bursting-ripe tomatoes are the sandwich’s co-star, though they can be the main focus if you slice them thickly enough. For a new take on the classic, consider a BLT sandwich bar.

Get the Recipe: DIY BLT Bar

FYI: It's Actually Better to Cook Your Tomatoes Than Eat Them Raw

  FYI: It's Actually Better to Cook Your Tomatoes Than Eat Them Raw The health benefits are incredible. ????FYI on the healthiest way to eat tomatoes: “Tomatoes are one of those few foods that are more nutritious when cooked—although they’re still pretty darn nutritious right off the vine,” says Bowden. “Cooking them actually releases the lycopene!” In fact, research shows that 100 mg of raw tomato has 2,573 mcg of lycopene while 100 mg of tomato sauce has 15,152 mcg.

a table topped with plates of food on a plate: BLT bar with toppings and sides © Provided by Real Simple BLT bar with toppings and sides

Fried Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes are firm and acidic. These are qualities made for hot oil and breading, making fried green tomato a summer staple. (An added bonus is that green tomatoes are usually a few bucks a pound cheaper.) Slice unripe tomatoes into rounds, dredge them in breading, and fry them in a cast iron skillet for a hot snack or the filling of a sandwich.

Get the Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes

a green apple on a branch: Green tomatoes - mistake 7 © Provided by Real Simple Green tomatoes - mistake 7

Spiced Tomato Chutney

At one end of their range, tomatoes thrive in a sweet and spice-forward setting. If you want to travel in this direction, consider turning grape or other smaller tomatoes into chutney. This one with allspice, cinnamon, and brown sugar embraces the richness of tomatoes, which develops as ingredients meld over 10 minutes in a single saucepan.

Get the Recipe: Spiced Tomato Chutney

food on a wooden table: Sweet and Spicy Tomato Glaze © Provided by Real Simple Sweet and Spicy Tomato Glaze

Tomato Salad Toast

You can savor a tomato in its simplest beauty in a few ways. Freshly picked and plain, for example, or right off the vine sprinkled with salt. A third way introduces a bit of Mediterranean sunshine: salt and a healthy glug of your best olive oil, letting the flavors of fresh tomatoes really speak. When going for a simple tomato snack this summer, mix up a tomato salad—and, if you like, serve over toasted crusty bread with fresh mozzarella.

Get the Recipe: Tomato-Burrata Toasts

food on a table: crostini with tomato and mozzarella © Provided by Real Simple crostini with tomato and mozzarella

Stop Eating Pesticides .
Sinking your teeth into a crisp apple or chomping on a stalk of celery is something you should be able to do without thinking. After all, the best nutritional science shows that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables—and plenty of them—is a crucial component of good health. But produce sometimes comes with potentially harmful pesticide levels. That’s according to a new Consumer Reports analysis of five years of data from the Department of Agriculture collected from tests on fruits and vegetables to detect about 450 pesticides. In some cases, those levels exceed what CR’s experts consider safe.

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