When you think of ways to enjoy tomatoes, you probably think of cooking them in the same way that you think of cooking vegetables, as opposed to fruits. We tend to think of tomatoes as savory and hearty, but of course, this vegetable-like food is actually a fruit. Either way, tomatoes are extremely underrated when it comes to their health benefits. Tomatoes are rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, such as lycopene, as well as important vitamins. Plus, the summer and early fall seasons are the perfect time to swing by your local farmer’s market to grab some while they’re at their seasonal peak.
Looking to go beyond BLTs and burger toppings with your tomatoes? Check out these 12 ways to use tomatoes when you’re planning your next meal:
Craft a Homemade Pasta Sauce
From low-carb varieties to spaghetti squash noodles, pasta is absolutely a part of a healthy diet. These days, so many of us are trying to break away from making our meals using only shelf-stable products, but making your own pasta noodles isn’t always realistic. A homemade pasta sauce, however, is rich, satisfying, and doesn’t cost a ton of money or time to make.
Start by selecting a favorite olive oil for your pasta sauce. This step is important because so many oils are actually low-quality. Look for a quality seal or use a brand that has passed authenticity tests, such as California Olive Ranch or Cobram Estate. Once you’ve picked a favorite, begin by getting those tomatoes ready for action.
You’ll want 2-3 pounds of tomatoes for your pasta sauce. Gently peel the tomatoes and dice them before heating 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan or skillet on medium heat. Then, add 1 chopped onion (red or green) and 4-5 teaspoons of minced garlic to the olive oil. Stir it all up for a few minutes before tossing the tomatoes into the skillet, as well. Sprinkle salt and pepper, as desired. This is your sauce!
You can choose which herbs and spices you’d like to add. Basil is a particularly popular choice. It also makes a lovely garnish. You might also wish to add just a touch of sugar for more flavor. Let all of this reach a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for a couple of hours. Remember to stir every so often as the sauce thickens. When it looks thick enough, it’s ready to serve! Bon Appétit!
Make a Healthy Pizza
Make pizza nights healthy by pairing a cauliflower crust with your favorite veggie toppings and a homemade tomato pizza sauce. Making a pizza sauce isn’t too different from making a pasta sauce. You’ll just want to add in some oregano or Italian seasoning. If you’re feeling particularly spicy, you can even toss in some red pepper flakes.
Stir Up Tomato Succotash
A tomato succotash combines corn and tomatoes with butter and spices for a healthy, filling dish. And, it’s been around for over a century! Give this recipe from 1917 a try for a touch of old-style cooking.
Entertain with Bruschetta
Bruschetta is a favorite tomato recipe for parties and barbeques. It may sound intimidating at first, but making bruschetta is actually quite easy! Spend with Pennies has a great, easy recipe for garden-fresh bruschetta.
Try a Tomato Salsa
Another party favorite, there are so many ways to make tomato salsa. You’ll want to play around with the ingredients and figure out your favorite concoction. Some people enjoy combining fruits, like mangos, with their tomato salsa. For an intro to tomato salsa, check out A Saucy Kitchen’s fresh tomato salsa recipe.
Sprinkle Tomatoes on Your Salads
This one is easy, but fresh tomatoes on leafy green salad beds never fail to give the best taste of summertime. Roma and cherry tomatoes make especially tasty salad toppers. Don’t forget the feta or mozzarella topping. Speaking of which...
Make Tomatoes Refreshing With Mozzarella
Low-fat mozzarella cheese is extremely healthy in moderation and tomatoes pair naturally with mozzarella. In the summer months, tomato-mozzarella salad is positively divine. Slice the tomatoes and place them on a decorative tray or plate along with fresh kale or spinach leaves. Sprinkle fresh mozzarella over the tomatoes and greens before drizzling olive oil on top. So delicious!
Roast the Tomatoes
Roasted tomatoes make a great dish on their own or alongside roasted zucchini or squash. Arrange sliced tomatoes on a pan and top with olive oil, minced (or fresh) garlic, salt, pepper, and any desired herbs. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Serve Up Gazpacho
Gazpacho is a delicious, chilled Spanish soup and it’s certainly a unique way to use your tomatoes. It takes about an hour to make with 2 hours in the fridge, so this is something that will take just a little bit of your time. A yummy gazpacho recipe can be found over at Cookie and Kate.
Stuff the Tomatoes
You’ve heard of stuffed peppers, but have you ever tried stuffed tomatoes? Scoop out your tomatoes and stuff them with yellow rice, corn, or other healthy goodies. Bake them for half an hour at 350-400 degrees.
Use Them as Fruits
A slushy tomato drink probably isn’t the first thing you’d think to make with your tomatoes, but maybe it should be! This recipe takes less than 10 minutes to whip up in your blender. Combine your fresh, diced (with seeds removed) tomatoes with a couple of tablespoons of honey, salt, and various spices, like cayenne pepper and ginger. Blend and chill. Here’s a recipe that includes chaat masala, a popular Indian spice.
Surprise With a Healthy Dessert
Okay, so this one is definitely a treat after a long dieting day. Use ceylon cinnamon or cinnamon sticks along with a cup of sugar and 2 pounds of tomatoes to make candied tomatoes! The entire process only takes a little over an hour with this recipe from The Splendid Table.
Do you enjoy cooking with tomatoes? Did any of the ideas on our list inspire your meal planning? Let us know on Facebook and remember to sign up for even more inspiration by joining our motivational email list! Happy cooking!