Blackened Plum Tomatoes Over Cucumber and Fennel Salad

Photo: Jannah Eilanie Szeibert

A Cajun Method You Never Knew Worked with Vegetables
Use: Really firm Roma (aka plum) tomatoes

Blackening isn't just a technique that works well with chicken or fish. Dipping anything—in this case, sliced tomatoes that you've patted dry—in a mixture of Cajun spices, then cooking it in a hot cast-iron skillet is an amazing way to add heat and crunch. In this recipe from Roberto's New Vegan Cooking, by Roberto Martin, the blackened tomatoes are matched with light, bright cucumber, mint and fennel.

Get the recipe: Blackened Plum Tomatoes Over Cucumber and Fennel Salad
Polenta Bake with Tomato, Feta and Mushrooms

Photo: Tara Fisher

A Pizza-Like Dish That's Beautifully Imperfect
Use: Cherry tomatoes (some sliced, some left whole)

This easy-breezy recipe reminds us of a deep-dish pizza, but instead of using a traditional crust, you use polenta (Italian cornmeal). Once you've whisked it with butter and stock and cooked it in a skillet, you scatter sliced mushrooms (any kind), crumbled feta and a hodgepodge of sliced and whole cherry tomatoes, which give the dish a nicely imperfect look. Slip it under the broiler so everything melts and the tomatoes slump, then toss a handful of arugula on top and your dinner is served.

Get the recipe: Polenta Bake with Tomato, Feta and Mushrooms
Stuffed Tomatoes with Sausage and Corn

Photo: Johnny Miller

A "Ta-Da!" Makeover for a Humble Veggie
Use: Any large, round tomato

Tomatoes can make wonderful vessels for stuffing; just look for ones that are big and round, not oval (bonus: round beefsteak tomatoes have a sweeter flavor than ones that are more oblong-shaped). This deceptively simple recipe has you cook Italian sausage, corn kernels and the insides of the tomatoes, then mix them with cubes of baguette and shredded mozzarella. You fill each tomato with the mixture and bake until golden and bubbling. The tomatoes will gently come apart as you eat, so each bite will have plenty of their bright flavor.

Get the recipe: Stuffed Tomatoes with Sausage and Corn
Tomato Pie

Photo: Bob Ingelhart/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Anytime Pie
Use: Baby pear tomatoes

Think of this lunch or brunch essential as a cross between a pizza and a fruit pie. You pile a savory mixture of baby pear tomatoes (which, like tiny pears, have narrow necks and a wide, round base), onions and celery into a crust, and then lay strips of dough over the filling in a crisscross pattern. The finished dish is mellow and just a little sweet, and tastes delicious hot, room temperature or cold.

Get the recipe: Tomato Pie
Fried Green Tomato BLT

Photo: Victoria Pearson

The New Spin on a Fried Classic
Use: Green tomatoes

This recipe, from Sheryl Crow's personal chef Chuck White, is a play on the traditional BLT, without the bread. Fried tomato slices act as bookends, and, in between, roasted-garlic aioli acts as mayo, pancetta as bacon and spinach as lettuce.

Get the recipe: Fried Green Tomato BLT
Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Photo: Mikkel Vang

The Soup You Want When It's Sweltering Out
Use: Heirloom tomatoes

This simple gazpacho is a wonderful way to highlight the acidity, sweetness and juiciness of those weird/beautiful-looking farm-stand classics. It's a great busy-day dinner, too, since you can make it ahead of time—the longer it sits in the fridge, the better it'll taste.

Get the recipe: Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
Fresh Roma Tomato Sauce

Photo: Lisa Hubbard/Photolibrary/Getty Images

The Sunday Supper
Use: Plum tomatoes

With fewer seed compartments, and more solid content than their round counterparts, torpedo-shaped plum tomatoes are ideal for making pasta sauce. The San Marzano variety is the Rolls-Royce of plum tomatoes, but any ripe variety will work in this easy sauce.

Get the recipe: Fresh Roma Tomato Sauce
Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Pesto

Photo: Guy Ambrosino

The One-Bite App
Use: Cherry tomatoes

These pesto-stuffed tomatoes are bright and beautiful, and offer a fresh alternative to tomato-basil-mozzarella skewers. Use cherry and not grape tomatoes; otherwise, they won't stand upright and the filling will spill out.

Get the recipe: Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Pesto
Tomato Sandwich

Photo: Sang An

The Stunningly Simple Sandwich
Use: Any kind of tomato, as long as it has a bit of that odd, dry-tomato-stem smell still on it

Here's all you need to make this perfect summer lunch: Thick slices of tomato, good bread, mayonnaise, salt and a little black pepper. That's it. Take a big bite, then another, and remember this moment in January.

Get the recipe: Tomato Sandwich
Tomato Relish

Photo: Quentin Bacon

The Condiment You'll Put on Almost Anything
Use: Beefsteak tomatoes

Chef Michelle Bernstein created this fresh tomato relish—which has a rich flavor and hearty texture (read: not watery)—to complement juicy pork tenderloin with parsley-cilantro sauce. But it's also terrific with hamburgers, hot dogs or roasted chicken. One more way we love it: spread on top of bread or pizza dough as a stand-in for marinara sauce.

Get the recipe: Tomato Relish

Next: Refreshing meals for the hottest days