5 Favorites: Late-Summer Tomatoes

Take advantage of peak tomato season with easy-to-make starters, sides and main courses and just the right wines to pair with them

5 Favorites: Late-Summer Tomatoes
Through early fall, a wide range of heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties suited to different dishes are available at markets and farm stands, including Brandywine, Black Cherry, Green Zebra and more. (MementoImage/iStock/Getty)
Sep 14, 2021

As the saying goes, “knowledge is knowing that tomatoes are a fruit, but wisdom is knowing not to put them in fruit salad.” We’ve culled the culinary wisdom of our editors and some top-notch chefs to come up with their favorite ways to use the abundance of luscious tomatoes now piled in a tempting array of colors and varieties at the market. We have everything from a classic tomato soup to a tiny-tomato pie to riffs on familiar pasta dishes.

And if you need more enticements from the garden into the kitchen, don’t miss our May 31, 2021, issue menu from José Andrés, whose recent Eat Your Vegetables cookbook includes recipes for classic gazpacho and a beefsteak tomato sandwich, and our recently published Labor Day entertaining menu from David Kinch, who accompanied a garlic-ginger grilled chicken with a side dish of creamed corn and garden tomatoes.


 Bowl of tomato soup topped with a dollop of herb crema and sprinkled with chopped fresh basil.
Fresh, sun-ripened tomatoes star in this classic with a kick, paired with a sleek Grenache-Syrah red blend. (Julie Harans)

8 & $20: Spicy Roasted-Tomato Soup with Herb Crema and a Rhône Red

Classic tomato soup recipes often start with canned tomatoes, but this version takes advantage of the fresh fruit in its peak season. If you choose soft, juicy, well-ripened tomatoes, the high-temperature oven roast will bring out their natural sweetness—which means you can skip adding sugar, another common ingredient in tomato soup. Sautéed onions, garlic and crushed red pepper provide a balance of flavors, while a dollop of sour cream and heavy cream mixed with chopped basil and parsley adds richness to the dish. Pair this delicious starter with a slightly chilled Côtes du Rhône red, with light tannins and a fair amount of acidity to stand up to the tomatoes. With bright red fruit and herbal accents, a Grenache-Syrah blend can bring out both the sweetness of the soup and its garden-fresh seasonings.


 A pan of roasted red, orange and yellow tomatoes topped with olive oil and coriander and fennel seeds.
Juicy tomatoes taste even sweeter after a low-temperature roast. (Evan Sung)

Seasonal Entertaining: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Coriander and Fennel Seeds

If you’re planning an outdoor dinner party as a last hurrah for summer, Missy Robbins, chef-owner of Italian restaurants Lilia and MISI in Brooklyn, has just the menu for you. Inspired by her own gatherings, Robbins put together a delicious selection of buttery grilled clams, garlic bread and roasted tomatoes. With only four additional ingredients, the tomatoes in this dish are given a chance to shine on their own. Halved heirloom tomatoes are seasoned with olive oil and salt, and then sprinkled with fennel seeds and cracked coriander seeds before slow roasting in an oven for two hours. The long cook time on low heat concentrates the flavors of the tomatoes without drying them out, leaving them soft and bursting with flavor. You might think to reach for a white wine, but an herbal red, such as a savory, elegant Chianti Classico, plays up both the seasonings and the sweetness of the tomatoes. Check out Robbins' full menu!


 Tomato pie with leaf-shaped patterns in the crust and small tomatoes on top, next to a glass of white wine
A spicy white wine makes a nice foil to a savory pie with juicy tomatoes, tangy melted cheeses and a golden crust. (Samantha Falewée)

8 & $20: Tiny Tomato Pie with a Bright Grüner Veltliner

This dish is a fun transition from summer to fall, taking advantage of the bounty of tomatoes that arrives just as temperatures are cooling off, making pie at tempting project once again. Start with premade pie crust, a well-needed shortcut on a busy weeknight. The base of the pie is a mixture of feta, Parmesan, yogurt and egg yolk, seasoned with oregano and pepper. This is then topped with whole, small tomatoes (try of mix of everything from grape and quarter-sized cherry tomatoes to yellow pear and green zebra), sprinkled with salt and more cheese and baked in the oven. To complement the tangy feta and tomatoes and the richness of the Parmesan and the golden crust, a Grüner Veltliner from Austria had just the right mix of citrusy flavors, lively acidity, concentration and spice. After the pie comes out of the oven, its enticing aromas will have everyone running to the table.


 Bowl of pasta with green avocado basil sauce mixed in with colorful, halved baby tomatoes.
Summery avocado, tomato and corn pasta tastes even brighter with a Vermentino. (Christine Dalton)

8 & $20: Avocado-Basil Pasta with a Creamy Italian White

Avocados have been a superfood craze for years now. But if you’ve grown weary of seemingly endless variations on avo-toast, maybe using avocado in a riff on pasta with pesto is just different enough to pique your curiosity (and whet your appetite). The sauce couldn’t be easier: Just toss avocado, fresh basil, lime juice, garlic, olive oil and Greek yogurt into the blender to achieve a creamy consistency that coats the linguine easily. Bursting with bright, summery elements, the sauce begs to be paired with seasonal vegetables, including juicy corn kernels and a brightly colored mix of heirloom cherry tomatoes. A creamy Vermentino from Sardinia, with refreshing acidity to elevate the richness of the avocado, provides a satisfying, summery pairing with this pasta!


 Two plates of gnudi dumplings mixed with tomatoes and corn are decorated with fresh basil and placed next to two white wine glasses
Delicate ricotta dumplings make a pillowy bed for fresh seasonal produce. (Lucy Schaeffer)

A Perfect Match: Ricotta Gnudi with Quick Tomato Confit and Fresh Corn Paired with Petit Manseng

If you’re not familiar with gnudi, don’t let that intimidate you. Chef Haidar Karoum of Washington, D.C., restaurant Chloe says the Italian dumplings, a rustic cousin of gnocchi, are easy to make. While gnocchi are made from a mixture of flour and cooked potatoes, gnudi switches out the potatoes for ricotta (no peeling or cooking required!) to create a loose dough that’s scooped in bite-size pieces from the bowl and plunked directly into simmering water for a few minutes. When they’re done, they’ll rise to the top of the pot.

While gnudi can be served with many accompaniments depending on the season, in late summer Karoum likes them with a quickly cooked mixture of sweet corn, cherry tomatoes and scallions in herbed olive oil (you can use the leftover oil in other dishes too). The delicate, pillowy dumplings are then finished with butter, fresh basil and grated Parmesan. To drink alongside, Karoum favors an offbeat white: Petit Manseng, an aromatic, high-acidity white grape indigenous to southwestern France that also makes distinctive dry whites in Virginia. With its medium to full body, exotic fruit notes and beeswaxy quality, it melds well with the starch, rich ricotta and sweet corn in this addictive, weeknight-friendly dish.

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