Cristina Ferrare's steak and tomatoes
Now is the best time to take advantage of the sweet, earthy, juicy flavor of tomatoes. Discover more than 10 ways to eat and prepare tomatoes this summer from Cristina Ferrare.
I prefer to eat tomatoes only during the summer months when they are sweet, the seeds aren't bitter, the skin is thin and they actually taste like a tomato! I always compare tomatoes to the ones I would eat as a child. Growing up in Cleveland, we only ate tomatoes in the summer because they just weren't available in the winter months. I couldn't wait until spring when I would beg my dad to take me to the garden center to buy packages of seeds for my garden. I would plant basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, onions, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini and three different varieties of tomatoes.

Ah, the tomatoes from the garden! One of my favorite things to do was to pick a ripe tomato, take out my little tiny shaker of Morton salt (the company use to make individual small shakers of salt that you could carry in your pocket), break open the skin to expose the inside and sprinkle the salt over the opened area. I would pull off a fresh basil leaf from the thick rows growing right next to the tomato vines, pop it into my mouth and then take a big, juicy bite out of the sweet, vine-ripened fruit!

There was something about the way the tomatoes smelled while still on the vine—so earthy and clean that it would literally shift my mood upon inhaling it and had a calming effect on me. To this day, the flavor and aroma is indelibly ingrained in my taste buds. The only way to enjoy that same distinctive flavor is to eat tomatoes that are grown organically in a home garden. If you don't have a garden, the open farmers' market in the summer will have great-tasting tomatoes. They're not quite as spectacular as the ones pulled seconds off the vine, but at least they are flavorful.

Personally, I love the beefsteak, Roma, heirloom and the tiny baby cherry tomatoes:
  • The heirlooms are tomatoes that are grown from seeds that are generations old and taste like a tomato from the old days! They are odd looking and come in funny shapes, sizes and colors, like yellow, orange and purple. They are simply delicious sliced thick and served with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil leaves and kosher salt. You can also add slices of my favorite cheese, burrata, which is a creamy Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream that simply melts in your mouth, and thin slices of imported prosciutto. Serve it with a warm, crunchy baguette a cold glass of white wine, and it's summer heaven!
  • I also cook with and use Roma tomatoes a lot. If you check out my videos on tomatoes, I will show you how you can make two different dishes: a BLT-inspired appetizer and a classic bruschetta recipe. I also have a delicious Fresh Roma Tomato Sauce recipe. The recipes will serve four to six people using just one bowl of tomatoes—a real money saver! This comes in handy if you have a garden. The markets will also have so many tomatoes on hand and offer great prices. Buy a lot and make your sauces and soups, and freeze or can them. That way you can still taste summer goodness all winter long!

Get more ideas for how to use tomatoes in delicious dishes this summer

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