When summer finally delivers on its promise of perfectly ripe tomatoes, these are the recipes Chef John turns to. The rest of the year, forget it. From gazpacho to steak pizzaiola, panzanella to burrata salad, these recipes are reserved for the height of summer when fresh tomatoes are at their most beautiful, most delicious peak.
This refreshing Spanish soup is the taste of high summer. Chef John calls it a "garden salad masquerading as a cold soup." The key is to use "killer, end-of-summer, super-sweet tomatoes," says Chef John. "There just isn't any substitute, so happy hunting." Serve cold in chilled bowls.
This quick-and-easy dish combines a sweet cherry tomato salad with pan-seared sirloin steaks and a fresh horseradish and crème fraiche sauce. Simple and light, yet hearty and comforting: "It's dedicated to that little mini-season between summer and fall," says Chef John. "That time of year when I crave hearty, comforting dishes that are still light and simple to make."
Concassé is simply peeled, seeded, and finely chopped fresh tomatoes. Use it as a base for fresh salsas. Add it to sauces, stews, soups, and chili. "The technique is relatively quick and easy," says Chef John. "And it will allow you to enjoy those gorgeous summer tomatoes sans skin and seeds. If you're feeling ambitious, do a few quarts, and can them for the winter."
As it happens, Tomato Concassé is also the key to Chef John's Steak Pizzaiola recipe. He describes it as "the soul of the superb sauce." While there are many ways to make pizzaiola, "the one thing most people agree on is that you should, if at all possible, use really fresh, very sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes," says Chef John. Serve over toasted bread with mozzarella cheese.
Super-ripe cherry tomatoes make this bread salad irresistible. "The key to this panzanella is frying the bread cubes in loads of olive oil in a skillet," says Chef John, "which obviously makes them crispy. But the healthful fat also soaks into the bread cubes and renders them semi-waterproof, or dressing-proof. The same goes for the dusting of Parmesan cheese applied halfway through the crisping process."
Make this simple salad when cherry tomatoes are spectacularly sweet. You'll slip off the tomato skins and marinate them in a zippy dressing of sherry vinegar, olive oil, fresh mint, and a pinch of cayenne. "Cherry tomato skins can sometimes be tough, and you really don't notice that until it's not there anymore," says Chef John. "Choose the most perfect tomatoes you can find for this recipe." Watch Chef John's trick for removing the tomato skins.
This stacked salad features buttery burrata cheese spread between layers of heirloom tomato slices and beautiful fresh basil leaves with a healthy drizzle of good quality olive oil. That's all there is to it! "Burrata is our newest addiction," says AdvenChef. "It's decadent and delicious. This is a beautiful presentation."