A Time for Tomatoes

Hello gorgeous! Recipes for one of summer’s best picks.

Did you know Virginia ranks 7th nationally for tomato production? As we speak, tomatoes are coming into season and we can’t wait for them to start hitting our plates … morning, noon and night. From a bright salad and antipasto to a cool gazpacho and classic bolognese, here are four of our editors’ favorite recipes starring Big Red. And if your garden runneth over, we suggest you make it a 4-course all out tomato-centric feast.

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

 1½ cups watermelon (red and yellow)
 1 cup tomatoes (mix of grape, cherry, Roma etc.)
 ½ cup pitted black olives
 1 tablespoon fresh mint
 1 tablespoon fresh basil
 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 2 tablespoons sugar
 ½ teaspoon salt
 freshly cracked pepper

Cut watermelon and tomatoes into small chunks. Drain olives. Slice mint and basil. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Combine all in a bowl and toss with vinegar and oil mixture.

Antipasto with Slow-Cooked Tomatoes and Lemon-Curried Mushrooms

Gather together your favorite grazing foods and arrange in groups on one large platter.

Consider including: Sliced prosciutto wrapped around thin grissini breadsticks, slices of smoked salmon, gently blanched white or green asparagus drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and dusted with flaky parmesan, and boiled and shelled quail eggs. 

Kip Dawkins | Styling by Jennifer Sisk


For the tomatoes:
12 firm red Roma tomatoes
1 cup vinegar

Set the oven to 200 degrees. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and arrange them cut side up on a rack on a baking tray. Sprinkle a small amount of salt and sugar over the tomatoes. Bake for three hours. Remove from heat, and cool completely. Dip each piece of tomato in the cup of vinegar and place on a paper towel to drain. Store in the fridge for about three days, and bring to room temperature for serving.

For the mushrooms:
2 pounds firm and fresh white button mushrooms
1 tablespoon curry powder
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon cooking oil
salt to taste

Heat oil, and when it’s smoking, add curry powder. Throw in the mushrooms, and toss to cover them evenly with the curry powder. Turn heat down before the mushrooms begin to brown, and add the lemon juice and salt. Cover the pan with a lid, and leave to simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Ensure the liquid does not evaporate completely; add a tablespoon of water if necessary. Cool, and store in an airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature, and drain any liquid before serving.

Smoked Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho 

Smoked Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

2 pounds vine-ripened red heirloom tomatoes, seeded, flesh diced small (save the juice)
1 pound vine-ripened yellow heirloom tomatoes, seeded, flesh diced small
2 small Kirby cucumbers, seeded and diced small (skins on)
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced small 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced small
1 medium onion, diced small
2 ½ cups unseasoned tomato juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon pimentón dulce (sweet smoked paprika)
⅓ cup sherry wine vinegar
⅔ cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, leaves finely chopped
½ handful fresh cilantro, stems removed, leaves finely chopped
½ lemon, juiced
3 slices day old French bread, crusts removed (using a food processor, pulse into fine bread crumbs)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Good quality smoked olive oil

Combine all ingredients except bread, salt and pepper, and olive oil in a large, non-reactive bowl (such as glass). Stir carefully so as not to crush the vegetables. Fold in bread crumbs and stir again.

Finish with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours. Rest soup at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving. Adjust salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into chilled bowls and garnish with a drizzle of smoked olive oil.

Serves 4-6

Classic Bolognese

¼ cup canola oil
2 pounds ground beef
2 carrots
1 6-ounce onion
2 stalks celery
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup tomato paste
2 cups white wine
1 pound fresh tomatoes, chopped or canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated fresh

Pulse carrots, onion, celery and garlic in a food processor until almost smooth. Place in a strainer to let some of their natural juices drain. While vegetables drain, pour half of the canola oil into a large Dutch oven or 8-quart sauce pot. Heat the oil until just before it starts to smoke, and add beef.

Stir until lightly caramelized, then pour beef into a strainer to drain. Using a paper towel, wipe down inside of the pot leaving anything that remains stuck to the bottom. Place pot back on heat and add remaining canola oil and vegetable mix. While stirring, scrape bottom, incorporating into veggies. Stir until vegetable mix starts to brown, and add tomato paste. Once tomato paste is incorporated and starts to turn brown, deglaze with wine. When almost all of the wine is gone, put cooked ground beef into pot with tomatoes and milk.

Simmer for 90 minutes on low heat, stirring periodically. The sauce should start to become thick and dry-looking on top. Be careful not to burn bottom. After 90 minutes, add salt and nutmeg. Taste for seasoning, and add cream. Continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring periodically. Serve with your choice of pasta.

Serves 4-8

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