What They Are:
Botanically speaking, tomatoes are a fruit, but while we do support eating lush ripe tomatoes out of hand as you would an apple or plum, culinarily speaking tomatoes are treated as a vegetable. (Fun fact: the United States Supreme Court has also ruled that tomatoes are a vegetable.) Members of the nightshade family, tomatoes are high in lycopene which is a powerful anti-oxidant.
What to Do With Them:
There is both an art and science to picking a perfect tomato. Great, in-season, summer tomatoes are diverse in size shape and color. To find the best, look for tomatoes without any bruises and breaks in the skin, no mushy spots. (Unless you are making sauce, soup or tomato water right away.) Whatever the color, a great tomato will be deeply colored and perfumed. That’s right, smell your tomatoes. You want a sweet, slightly vegetal or woodsy scent.
Once you’ve got them in your kitchen, never refrigerate tomatoes. NEVER. Also no plastic bags please. Keep your tomatoes at room temperature, with the stem side down. If your tomatoes are under ripe, they will continue to ripen if you leave them alone. If you want to hasten things along, place your tomatoes in a brown paper bag. An apple thrown in will make things even speedier because apples emit ethylene gas, which coaxes ripening along quickly.
When they are ripe, use them in sauces salads, salsas, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, juices, cocktails. Just about anywhere you can. And use them as often as you can during the all too brief peak season.
What Some Chefs Are Doing With Them:
We are looking forward to trying out the butternut squash with gingery tomatoes from NOPI: The Cookbook
, the latest tome from Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully. Jean-Georges Dubai is featuring the omnipresent ‘Shakshuka’ — slow cooked eggs, with roasted peppers, tomatoes and saffron— on their brunch menu. At PRINT. restaurant in NYC Chef Charles Rodriguez fully embraces tomato season on the menu, from soup to sauce to salads. On any given evening he has featured a variety of tomato centric dishes, including Gazpacho or Roasted Tomato Soup, Heirloom Tomato Salad with Purslane & Sherry Vinaigrette. A creamy Burrata adorned with cherry tomatoes, roast fish smothered in a bright tomato vinaigrette, and San Marzanos simmered down into a rich lamb bolognese. Executive Chef Todd Allison of T. Cook’s in TK Arizona is serving up a seasonal grilled New York Strip with blistered shishito, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, olive demi and chimichurri. And Chef/owner Anthony Pino, of Hoboken's Bin 14 has scallops, sweet corn, smoked bacon, fava beans and roasted tomato featured on his small plates menu.