An almost complete guide to using tomatoes

A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.” – Laurie Colwin


Options aplenty! And on sale this week at the Monta Vista Market.

Here’s an almost complete guide to using tomatoes: whole, chopped, sliced and blended………. (scroll down to see cooked and raw recipes).

  • Whole tomatoes can be served:
    • stuffed (see recipe, below, poaching an egg in a whole tomato)
    • roasted, seasoned and served as the star player on the plate
    • in soups, stews
    • braised (in red wine or white wine with herbs, serve with a touch of truffle oil, lemon juice)
    • as a snack, eat it like an apple
  • Large chopped tomatoes can be served:
    • as the star player in a salad
    • in a pasta or rice dish (or grain dish, such as polenta, quinoa)
    • baked in a frittata
    • paella
    • soups, stews
  • Small chopped tomatoes can be found:
    • on pizzas
    • in omelets, tacos and chili
    • in quiche, meatloaf and lasagne
    • gazpacho
    • paella
    • relish
    • soups, stews
    • salads
    • bruschetta
    • Caprese Salad (see below, with capers, yum!)
  • Thick sliced tomatoes are often found:
    • on burgers
    • in salads (see two Caprese Salad recipes, below)
    • on open-faced sandwiches
    • as a base for a pizza (instead of baked dough)
  • Thin sliced tomatoes show up:
    • in sandwiches
    • on pizza, lasagna and quiche
    • in a layered tomato pie
  • Crushed tomatoes brings to mind:
    • salsas
    • dips
    • sauces
    • soups (gazpacho)
  • Blended tomatoes are used in:
    • soups (see Roasted Tomato Soup, below)
    • sauces (see Raw Marinara, below)
    • tomato pie (slightly blended)


Egg poached in tomato

This quick and easy meal is not only good for breakfast, but also a good choice for a snack.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 whole tomato
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • Options, serve with:
    • salt and black pepper
    • smoked salt
    • truffle oil
    • chopped, cooked bacon
    • pesto
    • fresh basil or other herbs (cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme)
    • capers (idea: use caper juice instead of the lemon)


1. Put the water in a small saute pan, put on medium heat.

2. While the water is heating, cut off the top of the tomato and remove inner membrane and seeds to make room for the egg.

3. Season with lemon juice (and or salt, pepper, herbs, cooked bacon).

4. Crack the egg and put in the tomato.

5. Place tomato in the hot water, cover and cook until the egg is poached, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Sliced, recipe #1:

Caprese Salad, a vegan version

With sliced fennel, pear and roasted cauliflower basil pesto:

Sliced, recipe #2:

Caprese salad, a cheese-free version

With yellow bell pepper, cilantro butter and mashed cauliflower:

Chopped, recipe #1:

Caprese salad with caper berries

With buffala cheese, chopped tomatoes, caper berries, salt, freshly cracked pepper:

Blended, recipe #1:

Raw Marinara Sauce

With fresh toms and sun-dried tomatoes.

Blended, recipe #2:

Roasted Tomato Soup

Serves 6, 2 cups per person (or 6 quarts, or 1.5 gallons).

Blend these ingredients in batches in a high-speed blender:

  • 5 lbs roma tomatoes, roasted (see below: “How to roast tomatoes”)
  • broth from the roasted tomatoes
  • 10 sun-dried tomatoes plus soaking liquid (see directions, below)
  • 2 Thai young coconuts, water and meat (or 2 cans coconut milk)
  • 12 garlic cloves or 1 garlic bulb, roasted (see directions, below)
  • 1 to 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbls dried basil

Serve chilled or warm.

Garnish with chopped fresh basil and a 1/2 tsp of tamarind paste.


I have a Vitamix, a high-speed blender – it does a wonderful job of blending, very very very well. I didn’t have to mince the sun-dried toms. It will break up the dried basil flakes to basically being invisible. A food processor will work if you don’t have a high-speed blender — but the consistency will never be a smooth and creamy.

Use 1 cup of cashews instead of the coconut.

How to roast tomatoes

1. Turn oven on to 400 degrees F.

2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, or use a silicone baking liner.

3. Put ingredients in the pan, mix well and cook for 30 minutes, or until toms are soft.

  • 5 lbs Roma tomatoes, quartered (best to remove the seeds, this is optional tho)
  • 1 Tbls Sucanat, or Rapadura
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground is best

4. Remove from the oven and allow the tomatoes to cool, best to drain the liquid – be sure to retain the liquid b/c you’ll want to use this very sweet and tasty broth when you puree the tomatoes.

5. Remove the skins when the tomatoes are cool.


The thin skin of the roasted tomatoes should remove easily, if quite a bit of tomato pulp remains on the skin, then they didn’t cook long enough. Best thing to do at this point is to continue to remove the skins, then blend them and put the mixture through a sieve to separate the pulp from the skins. Some people would think this a tedious task, yet, for me – I’d spend the bit of extra time in order to use all of the edible pulp.

How to re-hydrate sun-dried tomatoes

Soak the dried tomatoes in a jar (with tight-fitting lid) for at least 3 hours in enough water to cover the toms. Shake now and then. If the toms absorb the water and they are still a bit stiff, then add more water to cover. No need to soak the toms if you buy them in the jar soaked in olive oil.

How to roast a whole garlic bulb

Roast garlic a whole garlic bulb– still in it’s ‘paper’ and wrapped in foil – in the oven at the same time as roasting the tomatoes.

More TOMATO quotes:

“Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.”

– Alice May Brock

“A cooked tomato is like a cooked oyster: ruined.”

– Andre Simon, The Concise Encyclopedia of Gastronomy