Every year my dad planted two or three tomato plants. That was it. No zucchini, sugar snap peas, or cucumbers to weed or trellis. Just tomato plants. This no-nonsense approach to gardening rewarded us with ruby red tomatoes all summer long. We ate them on BLTs for dinner, which was one of my all time favorite meals.
It’s not until I bite into a garden grown tomato that I remember how flavorful they are. Tomatoes come in all different sizes and varieties. Cherry and grape tomatoes are easily snackable and perfectly sized for pasta salads. Roma tomatoes have thicker walls and are great for cooking. Heirloom tomatoes are best enjoyed simply so that their nuance isn’t lost.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these simple recipes that feature raw (or only slightly cooked) tomatoes for you to enjoy on hot summer days.
Tomato egg is so simple and so satisfying. Contributor Frank Tiu says “Chinese tomato egg is commonly served with a bowl of jasmine rice. The saucy tomatoes will infuse and permeate through the grains, making each bite of rice exciting.”
Simple Summer Tomato Salad
Glow up sliced tomatoes with an easy vinaigrette and fresh herbs. Heirloom tomatoes really shine in this salad. Look for ones that are undamaged and feel heavy for their size.
No-Cook Tomato Basil Pasta
I make pasta all year around but this pasta keeps me from standing over a hot stove. The sauce ingredients are mixed together and then can rest in the refrigerator before warming with the pasta. Use really ripe and juicy tomatoes for the best results.
Arugula Salad with Tomatoes, Corn, and Burrata
Two types of tomatoes grace this simple salad. Toss them with fresh sweet corn, arugula, burrata, and a quick red wine vinaigrette and enjoy summer on a plate. If you can’t find burrata, substitute it for fresh or shredded mozzarella—or even cottage cheese.
Finding a crowd-pleasing, easy dinner salad is worth the chopping they require. You can mix the ingredients together the day before, leaving only the dressing and croutons to add when you’re ready to serve.
Caprese Salad With Tomatoes, Basil, and Mozzarella
The first time I had caprese salad, I understood why it was classic. Juicy tomatoes, soft cheese, and fresh basil all topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This one is worth splurging on the ingredients. You’ll be glad you did.
Lok Lak (Shaking Beef)
This Cambodian dish is usually served for special occasions, but when it only takes 35 minutes, you could easily make this on a weekday. Lany Phlong says “The sauce for lak lok contains salt, sugar, pepper, garlic, and lime. It rounds out the flavor of the beef by adding sour, spicy, and salty notes.” Layer the beef on lettuce leaves and sliced tomatoes.
Grilled Chicken Caprese Sandwich
This ciabatta bun sandwich comes piled high with grilled chicken, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Beefsteak tomatoes are easy to find anytime of year, but heirlooms would also be delicious.
Greek Pasta Salad
Pasta is a family favorite and when the weather warms up, I reach for pasta salads. This one is bursting with flavor and a great way to clean out the crisper or to use up the produce from the garden. Try out this easy hack for slicing cherry tomatoes and cut down on prep time!
Whether you eat these for lunch or dinner, you’ll love the flavor the chive mayo brings to the classic bacon, lettuce, and tomato combo. This recipe makes 6 wraps so there’s plenty to go around.
Lentil Salad with Summer Vegetables
This simple grain salad highlights cherry tomatoes, which is exactly what I want to eat for lunch on hot summer days. Make the lentils and dressing ahead of time and then add the vegetables for a fresh salad every day.
One-Pan Paprika Chicken with Potatoes and Tomatoes
Anyone else forget that one-pan dinners don’t need to be in a sheet pan? Instead, this chicken dinner is made in a 9 x 13 casserole dish, which helps the marinade and chicken juices flavor the vegetables. you add the cherry tomatoes towards the end of baking to keep them juicy.
Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil
This is one of those recipes that tastes like it took a lot longer than it actually does. Serve as a side dish or an appetizer at your next backyard bash.
By now you know how I feel about BLTs, so you can only imagine my delight at this BLT pasta. It’s similar to a pasta salad, except it’s served warm and the dressing is only added to the greens. The grape tomatoes are treated with care, drawing out their flavor and enhancing the whole dish.
Stone Fruit, Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Tomatoes are technically fruit, so why not let them mingle with summer’s other shining stars: peaches, plums, and cherries? Any type of ripe tomato works in this chopped salad. Just use what you have on hand.
Grilled Cheese BLT
Adding melty cheese to a crispy BLT is a genius move. Slicing tomatoes like beefsteaks work the best for these deluxe sandwiches.
Pico de Gallo (Fresh Salsa)
Make a batch of tortilla chips and serve them with a large bowl of homemade pico de gallo. Look for firm tomatoes, such as Roma, for this recipe.
Tomatoes on Toast
Toast is one of life’s simple pleasures. Eat it for breakfast or lunch, make it for guests, or just for yourself. Find juicy slicing tomatoes and a spreadable cheese, such as Boursin, and layer it on toasted crusty bread.
Tomato, Onion, and Avocado Salad
Get out a large serving platter for this layered side dish. You’ll want juicy slicing tomatoes, such as heirloom, and good olive oil to finish it off.
Cold Tomato Summer Vegetable Soup
Cold + soup sounds like an oxymoron but when the temperature is rising, it’s a refreshing option when you just can’t eat one more salad. It’s full of tomatoes, zucchini, and bell peppers and thinned with tomato juice. Serve as a side for grilled chicken or as a light lunch with crusty bread.
Zucchini Tomato Quiche
Quiche is welcome at any brunch so why not flex with a homemade version? This one features a filling of zucchini, Parmesan, and cherry tomatoes suspended in a creamy custard. Let cool to room temperature before serving.