Chef Jennifer Rossano’s Top 4 Tomato Recipes

It’s the season for summer’s best fruit: fresh, garden tomatoes. A good tomato is nearly impossible to come by in the winter: the skins are tough, the flavor is dull, and they are shipped from out-of-state producers like Florida, California, and Mexico—making it difficult to support local farmers. It’s best to enjoy tomatoes while you can, and pick the juiciest varieties from your grocery store or local farmers’ market.

Sure, they’re great in salads and sandwiches, but there are so many creative ways to get the maximum flavor from these red beauties. Jennifer Rossano, a private chef and culinary instructor who lives in Scarsdale, offered to share her favorite recipes featuring tomatoes, both cooked and raw.

Rossano uses local and seasonal produce to prepare food that is both healthy and delicious. The following recipes, from a colorful ratatouille to a vibrant corn and tomato salad, will have you tasting summer with every bite.
 

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Ratatouille

(Serves 6)

 

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp, divided

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1 cup onion, diced

2 tsp minced garlic

1 cup medium eggplant, skin on, diced

1 cup red bell peppers, diced

1 cup zucchini, diced

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1 cup yellow squash, diced

1 ½ cups tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped

2 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat and add ¼ cup olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the eggplant and 1 more tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Then add the red peppers, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and an additional tablespoon of olive oil, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring to combine.

Finally, add the basil, thyme, and salt and pepper, and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the mixture is cooked through and well combined. Stir well, taste, and add more salt and pepper to bring out the flavors.

Can be served either hot or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

 

Roasted Tomatoes and Shallots

(Makes about 2 cups)

 

“When you’re overflowing with tomatoes, roasting is a quick and easy technique to extend your enjoyment of summer’s finest fruit,” says Rossano. “The natural sugars in the tomatoes and shallots release as they cook down, resulting in a slightly sweet and more intense flavor. Use this savory side to perk up your morning omelet, add a schmear to your sandwich, or place atop a piece of fish. Fresh herbs will add the most vibrancy to this dish, but you can substitute dried herbs. As a general rule of thumb, substitute 1 teaspoon dried for 1 tablespoon fresh herbs.”

Ingredients:

2 pounds tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped (about 4 cups)

2-3 large shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp fresh herbs, minced (tarragon, oregano, thyme, rosemary)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large baking tray with foil. Mix the tomatoes, shallots, garlic, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread out evenly on the baking tray, and cook for about 30-35 minutes, until most of the juices have evaporated and the shallots are soft and slightly brown. Remove tray from the oven, sprinkle with the minced herbs, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days.

 

Summer Corn and Tomato Salad with Sweet Basil Dressing

(Serves 4-6)

 

“This recipe screams summer!” says Rossano. “The natural sweetness of the corn and tomatoes are enhanced with a teaspoon of sugar and the use of rice wine vinegar, which is has a soft and slightly sweet flavor.”

Ingredients:

8 ears corn, husked

¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus 2 Tbsp for garnish

3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ cup very thinly sliced sweet onion, such as Vidalia

Directions:

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rapid boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, and then add the corn. Cook for no more than 2 minutes, tossing the corn in the water to make sure all sides are blanched. Do not overcook, as you want the kernels to be crunchy, not mushy. Remove to a baking tray or large plate, and let cool.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Place the basil, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a blender and mix until well combined. Set aside.

When the corn is cool, remove the kernels and transfer to a bowl. Add the onions and tomatoes. Drizzle with the dressing, taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with extra basil leaves and serve. This dish can be made one day in advance.

 

Salsa Fresca

(Makes about 2 cups)

 

“Salsa fresca, also referred to as pico de gallo, is traditionally a mix of fresh tomatoes, onions, spicy peppers, salt and lime,” says Rossano. “Great with tortilla chips or crackers, it makes for an equally tasty condiment with grilled meats and fish. This recipe calls to remove the spiciest part of the jalapeno pepper, the seeds and membranes, so that the end result is extremely flavorful without stinging the palette with intense heat. If you want bold heat, you can use the entire pepper.”

Ingredients:

2 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)

¼ cup red onion, finely chopped

1 scallion, whites and green parts, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and membranes removed, minced (1 ½ -2 Tbsp)

¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped

½ lime, juiced (about 1 ½ -2 Tbsp)

2 Tbsp olive oil

¾ tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and add more salt or lime juice to balance the flavor according to your preference.

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