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Delicious ways to use seasonal tomatoes

August 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Pick a tomato from your own garden or the farmers market, and you know they are so sweet right now. You don't need to do anything to them. But variety is the spice of life, so here are seven terrific ways to use tomatoes.Tomatoes are at their peak season mid July to August so the time is now to make salsas, sauces and even ice cream.

Contributing chef for Bon Appetit magazine, Jeanne Kelley first let tomatoes take center stage on the grill.

"We have simple barbequed heirloom tomatoes with just a little drizzle of olive oil and some fresh herbs," Kelley said.

A few minutes on a hot grill heightens the flavor, making a great addition to any meal.

Say goodbye to the same old BLT. Try a sandwich that swaps bacon for pancetta, adding burrata, an addictively creamy Italian cheese, and spicy arugula standing in for lettuce to complete the twist.

Another great use of tomatoes is tomatoes stuffed with fresh mozzarella and basil, topped with basil vinaigrette for an appetizer with loads of different flavors.

Try tomato, onion, and serrano chile salsa - great for topping tacos and of course tortilla chips

Add pine nuts, capers, Kalamata olives, and roasted cherry tomato sauce with tangy feta cheese to hot or cold pasta. For this dish, tomatoes are roasted for 45 minutes to concentrate their sweetness.

Surprisingly, tomatoes also make a fat-free ice cream, although an ice cream maker is needed.

"Three ingredients in the gelati: Just tomatoes, a little simple syrup and a pinch of kosher salt," Kelley said.

Finally, while most of us try to eat locally and in season, making tomato sauce out of your fresh tomatoes can help you savor the flavor on a cold winter day. Cook them in olive oil and basil, then can or freeze for a later date.

"You can use them directly on pasta or you can use them on any of your winter recipes, say for stews or chilies or anything that might require a canned tomato, and you've got your own," Kelley said.

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