5 Ways to Use Fresh Tomatoes
Plus, essential storage and prep tips for every tomato lover
Food Editor at Kitchen Stories
There’s just about no other ingredient quite as versatile as the tomato. Whether fresh, canned, or dried—a tomato is always a pleasure, so it’s no wonder that we’d dedicate an entire article to the humble tomato and the great ways to cook with it!
With an annual consumption of over 61 pounds (28 kilograms) per capita, tomatoes are the most popular vegetable—well, technically fruit—in Germany. Surprised? We’re not! We love to use tomatoes in tons of our recipes here on Kitchen Stories, like tossing small, sweet cherry tomatoes in salads or simmering them up in aromatic pasta sauces, while larger beefsteak tomatoes make the perfect accompaniment to a bundle of creamy burrata.
Together with SanLucar, we wanted to celebrate the diversity of the tomato and present some of our most delicious dishes using fresh tomatoes here. With 10 different sun-ripened tomato varieties, in addition to many other fruits and vegetables, with SanLucar, you're sure to find the right tomato for every taste and recipe!
The versatile tomato and everything it offers
While there is an incredible range of over 3000 different varieties of tomato, showcased in their wide variety of colors and sizes, there’s also nearly endless methods to process and use tomatoes in the kitchen. They can be eaten raw, made into soups, thick pastes, sauces (an all-important ingredient for pizza), puréed, dried, pickled, turned into ketchup, or baked in casseroles—just to name a few options.
Since many kitchens and cuisines around the world love tomatoes, it's no surprise that the Italian word for “pomodoro” literally means “love apple”!
1. Tomatoes and umami
Umami, or the fifth taste, is known as a natural flavor enhancer that lends depth and intensity to many dishes, and you will find it highly concentrated in tomatoes. Especially in combination with other ingredients, tomatoes ensure that the inherent flavor of all components is enhanced during cooking and the aroma of many dishes is well rounded.
A good example of this is found in our recipe for a cherry tomato and miso pasta. With two umami rich ingredients—fresh tomatoes and miso paste—used at once, the depth of flavor and savory notes is incredible, and it’s definitely one of our favorite fresh tomato recipes for just that reason.
Burst cherry tomato and miso pasta with sesame crunch
2. Tomatoes are nutritious
Even if they’re 95% water, tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and folic acid and thus contribute to a balanced diet. The plant pigment carotene lycopene, which is responsible for the red color, is also a powerful antioxidant, which in combination with a little oil and heat—for example, with olive oil in your next tomato sauce—develops its full effect!
3. Tomatoes are beautiful!
Because of the diversity of varieties, tomatoes are unique and anything but always red and round. However, their beauty has long been their undoing. Because of the tomato's similarity to belladonna or deadly nightshade, which is known to be poisonous, it was long cultivated only as an ornamental plant in Europe due to its bright red color and magnificent shapes. So we should never take the tomato for granted in the kitchen!
Cooking with fresh tomatoes
Which tomatoes are best for which recipes?
Based on 3 other tomato recipes and SanLucar's wide selection of fruity and sweet to spicy and juicy tomato varieties, we'll show you which tomato variety is best for which dish. Of course it depends not only on the tomato variety, so these are just recommendations, as the taste can also be influenced by factors such as seasonality and cultivation method. So, when buying tomatoes you should pay special attention to ones with a pleasant smell, an intense color, and a plump shape that’s heavy for its size.
According to my colleague Carolin, gazpacho is THE cold summer soup not just for its taste, but also for its super fast and easy preparation. All the ingredients are processed raw and pureed in a blender (or with an immersion blender) which makes it the perfect no-cook recipe for hot summer days. Therefore, for the right consistency and a great flavor, you should go for ripe and juicy, large vine-ripened tomatoes, for example, the Gourmet or Caprese tomatoes from SanLucar, which also boast with a spicy-intense flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients in this cold soup.
Veggie burrito bowl
For this delicious burrito bowl, cherry or date tomatoes are particularly well suited because of their firm flesh and pronounced sweetness. In SanLucar's tomato selection, for example, you would find them under the names Rubin or Nibbling tomatoes. In this recipe, the small tomatoes are combined with corn, peppers, onion, and lime juice to create a fresh salsa that pairs perfectly with the other components of the bowl.
Tomato and egg noodle soup
This simple soup recipe is a popular variation on the famous Chinese tomato and egg stir-fry, and can swoop in to save the hungry (or hangry) in no time. As one of the main ingredients in this dish, the tomatoes should be aromatic and juicy. Therefore, larger beefsteak or vine tomatoes are the right choice, for example the Gourmet or Caprese tomatoes from SanLucar, which do not collapse easily when the soup is cooked and offer a strong aroma and flavor.
3 prep tips for delicious tomato dishes
Proper storage is the end-all, be-all
Unlike many other fruits and vegetables, tomatoes are loners who prefer a shady place at room temperature. To enjoy them for as long as possible, check out the following 5 tips for storing tomatoes properly:
To go along with our 5 storage tips, here are some recipes for preserving tomatoes:
Homemade spicy ketchup:
Tomato sauce needs sugar..?
While this may be a controversial tip, I am a personal fan of adding a pinch of sugar to most recipes with tomatoes. For me, it's that extra pinch that helps balance out the acidity and fruitiness of the sauce, but it can also be a quick way to tease out the best flavors when you don't have the patience or time to let the sauce simmer for hours.
Try it for yourself with this recipe for poached cod, where our chef Christian opts to add that extra pinch to the fresh tomato sauce, where we can recommend SanLucar's Praline tomatoes. Tell us in the comments if it makes such a big difference for you, and whether you’re a fan of the sugar pinch.
Poached cod in tomato sauce
Always remove the green “core”
You should always cut out the green “core,” where the stem meets the tomato fruit, as it contains small amounts of solanine and can be toxic when consumed in large quantities. You can watch a video on how to properly cut tomatoes here.
You're now fully equipped with all the tomato tips and tricks you need, so it’s time to get cooking!
If you want to learn even more about the once-feared ornamental fruit that eventually became one the most popular and invaluable additions to the kitchen, you'll find it here! Tell us in the comments below which tomatoes you like to cook with and what you like to make!
Published on April 11, 2022