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Summer Is Local Tomato Season

Jun 30, 2022 ● By Joy Howard
 A bowl of tomato soup

Photo credit Joe St.Pierre

Tomatoes are the most popular fruit in the world. Yes, fruit. Even the fact that most of us know and use them as a vegetable is a nod to their versatility and alluring complexity. There are literally thousands of varieties of tomatoes, and their diversity in flesh, flavor, size and color articulate a range that’s unmatched by most other fruit. I’ve yet to try one I didn’t love—from the sweet, firm flesh of cherry tomatoes to the musky, meaty richness of many heirlooms.

When I first started conceiving my recipes for my new cookbook, Tomato Love, I realized how I, and probably most of us, really, rely heavily on tomatoes in the kitchen. They can do the work of saucing, fortifying or perking up meals any time of day. They’re the centerpiece of innumerable versions of pizza and pasta, not to mention all the soups, stews and salads. This No-Cook Tomato Sauce is a super fresh sauce and a great way to use the summer’s sweetest tomatoes without having to cook them. Enjoy.


No-Cook Tomato Sauce

This super-fresh sauce is a great way to use the summer’s sweetest tomatoes without having to cook them. The longest step in making it is the wait to let the flavors meld. Use it simply to top a bowl of your favorite pasta or take it up a notch and make Spaghetti with Pan-Roasted Cauliflower and No-Cook Tomato Sauce. It takes only a few extra minutes, and the payoff is crazy delicious.


Yield: about 2 cups


1 lb (about 2 medium-size) heirloom
   tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped

½ lb sweet, small tomatoes, such as cherry
   or Campari, squeezed and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, grated

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Red pepper flakes

¾ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp chopped basil leaves


In a large bowl, stir together the tomatoes, garlic, oil, a pinch of pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.

Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour so the flavors meld.

Stir in the parsley and basil.


Photo credit Joe St.Pierre

Caramelized Onion and Tomato Jam

A combination of aromatic cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, along with fresh ginger, give this savory-sweet spread its warm, earthy flavor that’s a subtle nod to South Asian cooking. The onions are first caramelized, then cooked low and slow with tomatoes until they break down into a dark, sticky jam. Eat it with crackers or a baguette, or use it to top a burger.


Yield: 1 cup


¾ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp fennel seeds

2 Tbsp canola oil

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

2 tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1½ lb Roma tomatoes, seeded, cored,
   and cut into
½-inch dice

⅓ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

Crackers or toasted baguette for serving


Use a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to crush the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds into a powder. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Fry the spices for 1 minute, then add the ginger and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the onions, salt, and pepper flakes, and sauté, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot until the onions are golden and caramelized, about 25 minutes. If needed, splash in water, 1 tablespoon at a time to prevent burning.

Add the vinegar and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomatoes and sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture is thick and jammy, about 40 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with crackers or a toasted baguette.

Recipes excerpted from Tomato Love by Joy Howard. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Joy Howard is a cookbook author, food stylist, recipe developer and tomato lover. She is the author of Tomato Love and Disney Eats. She lives in New England with her husband and daughters.