Easy Tomato Recipes

Kentucky's tomato crops are finally here! 

Now, if you're like me, you're thrilled to have all those farm-fresh tomatoes, but you're always looking for new ways to use them. I'm fortunate enough to have family with serious vegetable gardens, so I have access to all the tomatoes I could possibly use. I certainly try to cram a year's worth of high-level lycopene benefits into the weeks of the tomato harvest! My go-to-recipes are Caprese salad, gazpacho and salsa.

 Caprese Salad is so easy, fresh, and delicious that you don't even need a recipe. Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and even fresher basil garnished with a little salt and pepper and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This year, I plan to get a little fancier, and make individual Caprese bites by slicing cherry tomatoes and stuffing with a mozzarella pearl and a basil leaf. The key to a good Caprese is great basil -- my basil hasn't been thriving this year, so I'm a little concerned about how my Caprese will turn out. 

Gazpacho is only worth eating when the tomatoes are fresh. I start with about twenty medium tomatoes; it's nice to add in a couple of different varietals here, for depth of flavor. I juice about half of the tomatoes, straining out all of the pulp and seeds. The others are submerged in boiling water for about 20 seconds, then peeled and pureed in the food processor. I then peel and dice a couple of cucumbers, a few garlic cloves, and about half a red onion and puree them in the food processor. I combine all this with a drizzle of olive oil and a couple spoonfuls of red wine vinegar, then season with some kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. I chill the soup for an hour or so and garnish with fresh basil. 

As for salsa, I'm trying desperately to find a great recipe. I kind of throw tomatoes, peppers, onions, lime juice and cilantro together when serving fresh salsa, but really want to hone my recipe. I've made a few stabs at canning salsa, but it just freaks me out. I'm a little afraid of canning, and all of the recipes I've found are emphatic about keeping acid contents at a certain percentage for stability of preservation. And, I don't like the flavor that boiling the cans lends to the tomatoes. All the awesome freshness is gone! I hope to work on my salsa again this year; I really love the idea of opening a can of homemade salsa without having to worry about all the preservatives and salt. In fact, I'd love to do the same with marinara. 

 This year, I hope to add tomato pie to the repertoire. What's your favorite tomato recipe?