10 Ways to Be a Tomato Whisperer — Summer Soiree

A true tomato whisperer holds these 10 peak-season values true all season long.

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Heirloom Tomato Pie


Food stylist: Anne Disrude Prop Stylist: Pamela Duncan Silver

Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

Tomatoes aren't like other types of in-season produce that we lose our minds over when they reach their peak (we're lookin' at you, peaches). We eat tomatoes year-round — no matter the season — and we rely upon shelf-stable staples like canned plum tomatoes, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes and more to get us through. Right now, however, tomatoes are juicier and sweeter than ever, and with great bounty comes great responsibility. A true tomato whisperer and lover of all things tomato — a champion of tomato cookin' — holds these 10 peak-season values true all season long.

1.  Makes a Different Kind of Pie

Countless times, you've beckoned the delivery dude or even made your own pizza pie from scratch. But now that tomatoes are in their prime, slathering a pie in from-the-jar marinara would be a travesty. Do as Food Network Magazine does and make a picturesque  Heirloom Tomato Pie (pictured above) that would never dare show up in a cardboard pizza box. With a buttery cornmeal crust, fresh herbs, Manchego cheese and mozzarella, this elegant beauty is crowned with a gorgeous sunset-spectrum of mixed heirloom tomatoes.

Tomato Cobbler


Food Stylist: Susan Spungen Prop Stylist: Pamela Duncan Silver

Photo by: Anna Williams Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin 917 751 2855

Anna Williams Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin 917 751 2855

2. Prioritizes Tomatoes Over All Else — Even Dessert

When the need for a cobbler arises, with drop biscuits and all, fight your berry-focused tunnel vision with the promise of a cobbler with a savory leaning. Food Network Magazine's  Tomato Cobbler will cast aside all your sweet-tooth ambitions when it leaves the oven bursting with ruby-red tomatoes and golden-hued biscuits.

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup


Photo by: Renee Comet ©Renee Comet

Renee Comet, Renee Comet

3. Says No to Cans

Even when it's made "from scratch," the classic tomato soup is derived from canned tomatoes from the very start. But not this one. Ina Garten's  Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup comes to fruition thanks to 4 pounds of vine-ripened tomatoes.

Peach, Plum and Tomato Fruit Salad


Food Network Kitchen’s Peach Plum Beefsteak Tomatoes and Basil as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

4.  Knows Tomatoes Are Really Fruit — and Treats Them Like It

Though tomatoes often hang with the veggie gang, it's no secret that they are, in fact, a fruit. For once, treat tomatoes like the fruit they truly are by  making a fruit salad hinging on tomatoes, peaches, plums and basil.

Mac and Cheese

Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese as Seen On Food Network's Barefoot Contessa

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Tara Donne, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

5. Goes for the Unexpected

Oftentimes, we'd be the first to say that mac and cheese, by its nature, needs nothing more than  mac and  cheese (plus maybe a buttery breadcrumb topping) to be at its peak. But then we met the Barefoot Contessa's Mac and Cheese. Instead of stopping where the rest of us would, Ina tops her ooey-gooey mac with refreshingly juicy tomato slices before laying on the breadcrumbs.

Grilled Tomato Salsa

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

6.  Goes the DIY Route, Even When the Jarred Equivalent Is a Thing

You could buy a jar of tomato salsa, but a true tomato whisperer would have no part in that. Melissa d'Arabian's homemade  Grilled Tomato Salsa showcases grilled-until-charred Roma tomatoes, garlic and serrano chiles that are blended together to scoopable perfection.

Sausage-and-Basil-Stuffed Tomatoes


Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevich Prop Stylist: Pamela Duncan Silver

Photo by: Kana Okada ©Kana Okada 2012

Kana Okada, Kana Okada 2012

7.  Makes Them a Main Event

Like peppers before them, ripe tomatoes are just begging to be stuffed. Food Network Magazine's  Sausage-and-Basil-Stuffed Tomatoes come with the pulp scooped from the tomato so that a hearty filling can be baked inside. That way, they're bulked-up and satisfying enough to be a main dish.

Tomato Chips

Veggie Chips Left_5715 FINAL.tif

Photo by: Jason Varney

Jason Varney

8.  Brings Tomatoes Into Snack Time

Food Network Magazine proves you can make crispy, addictive Tomato Chips perfect for snacking, with a little help from your microwave. Take that, greasy potato chips.

Cherry Tomato Salad


Food Styling: Anne Disrude Prop Styling: Karin Olsen

Photo by: Kat Teutsch

Kat Teutsch

9.  Says "Potato Salad? What About Tomato Salad?"

Why do potatoes get all the attention, with boatloads of creamy potato salad serving as the time-honored staple at the backyard cookout? Now that colorful tomatoes are at their sweet peak, look to Food Network Magazine's Cherry Tomato Salad with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing to get your creamy cookout side fix.

Tomato Sauce

Photo by: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Brian Kennedy , 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

10.  Douses Pasta with From-Scratch, Never Jarred Tomato Sauce

Like tomato soup, a great many homemade tomato sauces start with canned plum tomatoes — and that's not a bad thing. But when tomatoes are ripe off the vine, they belong in Alton Brown's from-scratch  Tomato Sauce, made with 20 Roma tomatoes.

Check out more tomato recipes from our friends:
Homemade Delish:  Sweet Tomato Jam
Weelicious:  Heirloom Tomato Salad
Swing Eats: Tiny Insalata Caprese
The Wimpy Vegetarian:  Tomato and Swiss Tart
Elephants and the Coconut Trees:  Tomato Pickle

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