This is the best time of year for all types of tomatoes: heirloom, yellow, and even super-sweet cherry tomatoes. Here are some simple, classic recipes to make the most of your farmers' market haul.

The second-best thing to growing your own and eating them fresh off the vine is finding beautiful, fragrant tomatoes at your local market in the summertime. When you want to do a little something extra with them, try one of these easy recipes.

Caprese Salad

I have to admit: I'm a sucker for a good Caprese salad. If I see it on a menu, even in a pizza joint, it will probably end up on my table. A basic Caprese has tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil – the rest is up to you. Salt and black pepper, good olive oil, and a touch of balsamic vinegar are what I use at home. This version, from Third Base PIzza and Frozen Custard, incorporated a heavenly balsamic glaze that added a bit of sweetness. 

caprese salad

Turkish Eggplant and Tomatoes

This simple dish is surprisingly hearty and filling. You can serve it as a side or one its own with a loaf of crusty bread, and it's even better the next day. I personally peel the entire eggplant but you can use this zebra stripe method as well. Check out the recipe here, courtesy of cooking blog, A Kitchen in Instanbul.

Turkish eggplant

Courtesy of A Kitchen in Istanbul

Tomato Sandwiches

If you've never tried one, just do it. It may seem completely basic and insipid, but there's something very comforting about a tomato sandwich. Your bread should be white bread – either a sandwich loaf or a slice of fresh Italian-type bread, untoasted. Slather it with your choice (Duke's) of mayonnaise and a few slices of juicy red beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes. Salt and pepper generously and dig in. Somehow, this is the best part of a BLT without the guilt of the B. 

tomato sandwich

Tomato Water Martini

This is a sophisticated way to incorporate tomatoes into your cocktail hour. Make your own tomato water by slicing and gently squeezing ripe tomatoes. You are looking for the pinkish-red, watery juice that runs off, NOT tomato sauce from the crushed flesh. Try this recipe from Muir Glen for show-stopping tomato water martinis with a twist! 

tomato martini

Courtesy of Muir Glen

Tomato Flatbread

This is what you want to prepare for a big crowd when you have a bunch of cherry tomatoes. I cheat and use prepared puff pastry and shredded cheese, but here is a vegan recipe for a lighter version. The presentation is simply stunning when you can get different colored tomatoes.

tomato flatbread

Courtesy of Green Evi

When looking for tomatoes, it's okay if they are a bit firm to the touch. They will continue to ripen a bit on your counter at room temperature. I find that the sweetest cherry tomatoes can be in the gold/orange color range, and the meatiest varieties are the big, round beefsteak tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are good for making sauce but are not as juicy as others if you plan on eating them fresh. Cracked tomatoes where the skin is split open may mean too much rainfall in the growing area, so those tomatoes may be a bit bland. You want to look for unblemished tomatoes that have a nice fresh fragrance at the stem end.


**All of the photos in this article are by Sarina Petrocelly unless credited otherwise.

Do you have a favorite tomato recipe that you pull out every summer? Tell us about it in the comments!