The thing about tomatoes is that when you grow them in your own garden, one of two things usually happens. Either a plant pops off two or three (very small) vegetables, or the plant absolutely explodes with offerings as if it's producing for a small army. If your problem is lucky enough to be the latter, you're not alone. Around the world, tomatoes have held great significance in many recipes. Now that everyone is at home gardening, there's only one question on every home gardener's mind: what the heck do you do with all of them?
Luckily, we know food and we know worldwide cuisine which is how we believe that, yes, all of those tomatoes can be used before they turn into bird food. From cold soups to delicious taco toppings, those tomatoes will look (and taste) amazing in any one of these internationally-inspired dishes. And, when in doubt, eat them with some sugar or salt!
No other soup has ever had a greater calling for fresh tomatoes than gazpacho. While other vegetables are included in this cold soup, it's the tomatoes that really shine through as the base flavor for everything else. And, if your tomatoes are perfectly ripe and full of flavor, you can totally get away with using less store-bought tomato juice to add to the mix. Heirloom tomatoes work very well for this and while they might be a bit unsightly, they're perfectly balanced in flavor and taste like summer.
Anything of the small variety of tomatoes such as cherry or grape won't work as well because they've got tougher outer skins, and any recipe will require pounds of them. Don't worry, though - we've got some recipes for those baby tomatoes, too.
Italy: Caprese Salad
Caprese salad is by far one of the best ways to showcase a fresh tomato. In fact, if tomatoes aren't in season, there's really no point in even making this appetizer. In Italy, it's traditionally served with fresh basil, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Some restaurants might serve it with a drizzle of sweet and tart balsamic vinegar, as well. The incredible thing about this dish is that despite its simplicity, the balance between the creaminess of the fresh mozzarella cheese and the acidic tomatoes is a match made in heaven. It's practically a garden-grown salad.
To bump up the stakes, using burrata would absolutely elevate this dish. Burrata is a specific cream-filled cheese that only comes from one region in Italy, and its flavor is like mozzarella, but better. With a little bit of good olive oil, salt, and pepper, this will quickly become your favorite summertime dish.
Portugal: Arroz de Tomate
There's a common trend here with simple dishes and fresh tomatoes. Arroz de Tomate is a popular side dish in Portugal and while it doesn't sound like much, it's practically the perfect accompaniment to any main dish - here's why.
The dish starts with long-grained white rice that's been sauteed with onion and garlic, but it's no ordinary stock or water that cooks the rice all the way through. Instead, this rice is cooked with a stock of tomatoes which not only flavors the rice from the outside but allows that acidic tomato flavor to seep into the rice, as well. There are multiple ways to add tomatoes to the stockpot with the rice but the easiest way is to just blend them, and then cook everything together. When the water is absorbed by the rice, what's left behind are perfectly stewed, sweet tomatoes.
Mexico: Pico de Gallo
Most people have heard of pico de gallo before and have probably had it on their tacos. The problem with pico de gallo is that if it's not made fresh, and with tomatoes that are in season, it can taste lacking in flavor. Therefore, the summertime is the best time to use up whatever cherry and grape tomatoes are left just for this purpose.
Diced tomatoes mixed with red onion, tons of cilantro, lime, salt, pepper, and olive oil make up a great, simple pico. It can be used on practically anything, though - not just tacos!
In Germany, there's a tomato-based salad that's called tomatensalat which, quite literally, means 'tomato salad.' This salad starts with a base of freshly chopped tomatoes, diced yellow onion, and a slew of fresh herbs including basil, parsley, and dill (all of which you might have in your garden, anyway).
To that, a vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper are added, creating a sweet and tart flavor. The longer this salad sits in the refrigerator, the better it will be; it's served simply over some good crusty bread or just on its own!