Have tomatoes to spare? We’ve got you covered, with recipes and ideas

The tomato plants in my raised garden beds are heavy with fruit, so plentiful now that I just can’t keep up. My family and neighbors imbibed for a while, but now groan each time I nudge, “Eat more tomatoes!”

And should the weather hold, it looks like I could be picking them until mid-October — or later.

Related: Is your tomato harvest really late this year? You’re not alone.

So far this summer, I’ve made a few caprese salads, tomato omelets, BLTs, bruschetta with roasted tomato and brie, tomato-cucumber (also from my garden) salad, and just roasted up some super-sweet hybrid cherry tomatoes with garlic, oregano and onion without having any idea what I would be doing with them. (But oh, that SMELL!)

Former Denver Post food writer Bill St. John swears by a simple tomato sandwich.

“O, what a glory is summertime’s tomato sandwich, little more than a sliced ripe tomato between lightly-toasted soft white bread — or even a hot dog bun! — slathered with mayonnaise spiked with freshly ground black pepper and, if in the mood, leaves of the garden’s basil,” he writes. “Gate to heaven. (Two summers ago, I ate one or five for 52 straight lunches in a row, documented on Facebook so it had to have happened.)”

Of course, I’ll also be doing some canning, as I do every year, so I’ll have jars stocked up for when I’m hankering for that just-picked taste in sauces come winter. (Check with the CSU Extension Service for tips on canning fruits and vegetables; it’s so easy you’ll wonder why you hadn’t thought of doing it before now.)

Last week, as I ran out of ideas, I reached out to some friends and co-workers who contributed some of their favorite tomato dishes and fast-fix meal ideas, below, many of which I can’t wait to try.

And by the looks of my garden, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so in the next month or so.

Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Serves four. Source: Suzanne S. Brown, former Denver Post features editor

Forget the lettuce and make fresh tomatoes and cucumbers the star of the show. This simple salad, adapted from one published in Cooking Light magazine in 2016, is a crowd-pleaser at picnics and potlucks. Use tomatoes in multiple colors and sizes to appeal to the eye and palate.  We call cherry varieties like Sungold and yellow pear “flavor bombs.” Other tasty beauties include such heirlooms as Black Krim, which is reddish-purple, and Mandarin Cross, a Japanese variety with a deep golden-orange color.


For the salad:

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 2 -3 pounds of heirloom tomatoes, cored and sliced into bite-size pieces, or for cherries, sliced in half
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ½ cup fresh herbs, including basil, thyme and oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons (or about 1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1-2 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs – basil, thyme, tarragon, whatever you have growing


Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl or jar and whisk or shake to mix. Vary ingredient amounts to taste, and if you little it a little sweeter, add 1 tablespoon of honey before whisking.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the cucumber skin at ½-inch intervals, so that some peel remains. Cut cucumber in half lengthwise, remove seeds and chop into ¼-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, mix the cucumber, tomatoes and onion with about half the dressing and half the herbs, tossing gently before adding salt and pepper.

Arrange salad on a serving platter. Taste and adjust seasonings and add more dressing as desired.

Baguette BLTs

Makes 4 sandwiches. Source: Bill St. John, former Denver Post food writer. Find more of his recipes at billstjohn.com.


  • 1/2 pound thick-cut smoked bacon
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, if desired, and thinly sliced
  • Several red or green leaf lettuce leaves
  • 1 long or 2 short baguette(s), split horizontally


Place the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown on both sides, about 6 minutes. Remove from pan; drain on paper towels.

Mix mayonnaise with fresh basil in a bowl. Spread evenly onto open sides of baguette(s). Arrange tomatoes on one side. Layer with bacon slices and lettuce leaves. Place other side of baguette on each. Slice on an angle to create 4 sandwiches.

Tomato Martini

Source: Collin Griffith, beverage director at OAK at Fourteenth, on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall.


  • 2 ounces vodka or gin (Woody Creek is recommended)
  • 1 ounce tomato water (recipe below)
  • 1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 2 dashes lemon bitters


Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Serve into chilled glass.

Tomato Water


  • 1,300 grams ripe tomatoes, preferably heirloom
  • 300 grams cucumber
  • 20 grams basil
  • 15 grams salt


Blend all ingredients until smooth in food processor. Pour contents into pan. Let sit overnight. Filter through a sieve, coffee filter or cheesecloth.

Roasted Tomato Risotto

Denver Post staffer Julie Vosser-Henderson found this recipe in “The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples” by Miyoko Schinner (Ten Speed Press) and swears by it. From Schinner: “This is a requisite dish I make at least once every summer, a justification to spend an afternoon roasting tomatoes. Why? Because being temporarily transported to heaven once in a while is something I enjoy. And this gets me there. It is, simply, luscious.”


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups roasted tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato elixir (see recipe below)
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil, slivered.


Preheat the oven to 350. In a large ovenproof pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and sauté until tender. Add the rice and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the stock, wine, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more, depending on the saltiness of the stock) and stir. Cover with a lid, put in the oven, and bake for about 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato elixir and give it a good stir. Put it back in the oven and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or so, until the rice is just al dente and suspended in a lovely red sauce. Mix in the basil and stir; serve immediately.

Roasted Tomatoes and Tomato Elixir

“Every aspect of the tomato is glorified by roasting — the resulting juice, which I lovingly call “elixir,” is luscious, rich and sweet, elevating soups, risottos and sauces, while the skins can be pureed to make a powerful tomato pesto,” writes Miyoko Schinner, author of “The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples”  (Ten Speed Press). “And, of course, the tomato itself is the star. … Make a bunch and freeze, and you’ll be able to carry some of summer’s flavors into the colder months.”


  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 8 to 10 pounds ripe medium to large tomatoes
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled, separated into cloves
  • Several fresh thyme sprigs (if available)
  • Sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350. Lin baking sheets with parchment paper or brush them with a little olive oil. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them cut-side down on baking sheets, leaving 1/2 inch or so between. Distribute the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs and spring on the olive oil. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, then transfer the liquid to a bowl, draining as much of the juices as possible. Repeat, baking for another 20 minutes or so and draining the “elixir.” Peel off the skins and discard (or save for pesto; recipe below). Return to oven and bake another 20 minutes or so, until the tomatoes have become concentrated in size and meaty in texture. After cooling, the tomatoes can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks, in either the drained tomato liquid or olive oil. Keep the highly concentrated elixir in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze it for several months.

Roasted Tomato Skin Pesto

Post staffer Julie Vossler-Henderson said this pesto “was the sleeper hit” of her tomato excursions with “The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples”  (Ten Speed Press). “I stirred it into warm pasta, and OMG. So simple and SO GOOD,” she said. “It was also very good on bread, but honestly, what is not good on good bread … .” Author Miyoki Schinner writes: “Those wrinkly tomato skins left over from Roasted Tomatoes (above) become a rich pesto that plays beautifully with pasta or polenta, as a spread for sandwiches, or melted into soups.”


  • About 2 cups tomato skins from Roasted Tomatoes
  • About 1/2 cup olive oil, or more as needed
  • 3 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon white or yellow miso, or 1 teaspoon salt


Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, thick and spreadable. The sauce will thicken even more as it sits. Refrigerate in a jar for 3 to 4 weeks or freeze for up to a year. Pouring a layer of olive oil on top of the pesto will keep it fresher for even longer in the fridge.

Garden Pie

This recipe ran in the Owensboro (Kentucky) Messenger-Inquirer when I was a reporter there in the mid-90s. Another bonus is that it uses some of that prolific garden squash, too. It claims to make eight servings, but three of us ate the entire pan on a recent Saturday night. — Noelle Phillips, Denver Post reporter


For the crust:

  • 1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of hot sauce

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 squash (any variety will do)
  • 1 cup of fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 pound of fresh mushrooms (any variety will do)
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tsp of basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 cups of Monterey Jack cheese


For the crust:

Cook the couscous in the broth, following instructions on the package. Let couscous cool slightly. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Toss the couscous with the egg whites, parsley and hot sauce. Spread the mixture into the pie plate and set aside.

To make the filling:

Over medium heat, cook the garlic, onion, squash, corn, mushrooms in the olive oil for five minutes. Add the tomatoes, hot sauce, salt and basil. Cook for five more minutes until the liquid has evaporated.

Toss the veggies with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and spoon into the couscous crust. Use the remaining cheese to top the pie.

Bake at 350 degrees until the crust is firm and the cheese melts.

Note: Feel free to add other fresh garden veggies.

BLT Gazpacho with Crispy Prosciutto

Serves 6-10, depending on portion size. Source: Bill St. John, former Denver Post food writer. Find more of his recipes at billstjohn.com.


  • 6-8 slices prosciutto
  • 2 cups firm-crumbed bread, crustless, cubed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 ripe, medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 English or 2 Persian cucumber(s), peeled and chopped
  • 4 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 large white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Fruity Spanish extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling


Make the crispy prosciutto: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a wire rack on a large baking sheet. (Alternatively, if you don’t have a rack, you can roast the prosciutto on a parchment-lined baking sheet.) Arrange the prosciutto slices in a single layer on the rack and roast until quite crisp, 6-8 minutes. Roughly crumble the prosciutto and set it aside.

Make the gazpacho: Place the bread and water in a bowl and let the mixture rest for 10-12 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed most or all of the water.

Transfer the bread mixture to a very large bowl; add all the remaining ingredients and toss everything to combine well. In the bowl of food processor or blender, purée everything until smooth. (It may be necessary to do this in batches.) Using a sieve or “china cap,” strain the gazpacho over another large bowl, unless you prefer a slightly coarse soup.

Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours until very well chilled. (Gazpacho may be prepared up to 8 hours ahead. Keep covered and refrigerated.) To serve, ladle gazpacho into chilled bowls or cups, topped with the crumbled crispy prosciutto and a decorative drizzle of the olive oil.

Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

This easy sauce is a great way to use a surplus of tomatoes. Mix a variety of types for pleasing taste and color. The sauce also freezes well. After cooking and cooling, spoon sauce in pint-size containers or zip-lock bags and pull them out all winter when making soups and casseroles. The sauce can also be doubled or tripled with good results. I’ll hopefully be making multiple batches until frost takes the vines and Farmer Brown calls it a season. – Suzanne S. Brown

Serves four.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4-5 cups vine-ripened tomatoes, preferably heirlooms and Romas, cored and coarsely chopped (see note)
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


In a heavy saucepan, cook onion in olive oil until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings as desired.

Serve over pasta for a chunky sauce, or use an immersion blender for a smooth sauce.

Note on tomatoes: The skin and seeds can remain on tomatoes, but if a smoother texture is desired, immerse tomatoes briefly one at a time in boiling water, put in an ice bath to cool, and then peel off skin. To remove most of the seeds before cooking, put chopped tomatoes in a colander and gently shake it over the sink to let seeds fall through.

Genius Ratatouille

I use Alice Waters’ recipe via Food 52 as a template but adjust it based on whatever I have available in the garden at the moment. Rather than the basil “bouquet,” I just throw the herbs in. If you use small or the long, slender Japanese eggplant, you don’t need to do the colander routine, but it doesn’t really add much time to do that step. The original recipe was taken from Waters’ 2007 cookbook, “The Art of Simple Food.” — Suzanne S. Brown, former Denver Post features editor


  • 1 medium or 2 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more to taste
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch basil, tied in a bouquet with kitchen twine + 6 basil leaves, chopped (see note, above)
  • 1 pinch dried chile flakes
  • 2 sweet peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 medium summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Salt to taste


Toss the eggplant cubes with a teaspoon or so of salt. Set the cubes in a colander to drain for about 20 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Pat the eggplant dry, add to the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Add a bit more oil if the eggplant absorbs all the oil and sticks to the bottom of the pan. Remove the eggplant when done and set aside.

In the same pot, pour in 2 more tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and cook for about 7 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, basil bouquet, dried chile flakes, and a bit more salt.

Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in peppers. Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in summer squash. Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in tomatoes.

Cook for 10 minutes longer, then stir in eggplant and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are soft. Remove the bouquet of basil, pressing on it to extract all its flavors, and adjust the seasoning with salt.

Stir in the chopped basil leaves and more extra virgin olive oil, to taste. Serve warm or cold.

Oven Roasted Marinara Sauce

This is a tasty, low-effort way to use up all your garden tomatoes in a quick and dirty tomato sauce. If you want to remove the skins first, go for it. I don’t bother with this recipe. I’ve made it with a mix of tomatoes from small cherry tomatoes to big juicy beefstocks. This is a true measure-with-your-heart recipe, so trust your taste buds! The ingredients aren’t exact as it depends on how many tomatoes you want to use. — Tynin Fries, Denver Post deputy director of audience


  • Enough tomatoes to fill a 9×13 baking sheet (we’re not picky about variety here), making sure to halve or quarter the larger ones
  • Garlic cloves (half a bulb at least)
  • 1 white onion, quartered
  • Dried basil
  • Dried oregano
  • Fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, or anything else you have on hand)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • White sugar
  • Olive oil
  • Optional: red pepper flakes


Place all your tomatoes, garlic and onions into a baking tray. Toss with olive oil, dried basil, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, if desired.

Once evenly coated, bake at 425 degrees for about an hour and a half. You will want the smaller tomatoes to have burst open and the bigger tomatoes to have withered with some color on the skins. You’ll have lots of juice in the pan.

When you’re happy with the roast level and your house smells delicious, remove it from the oven. If you have an emulsion blender, add everything in your pan straight into a pot and blend until the desired texture is reached. If you’re working with a stand-alone blender, add ingredients and blend in batches until everything is blended and in a pot.

Add about 2 tablespoons of sugar to your sauce. Add fresh basil and any other herbs you have on hand like parsley or thyme. Add onion and garlic powder to your heart’s desire. Remember to taste as you go! Add in freshly grated parmesan to taste.

Let your sauce simmer for about 30 minutes. Depending on the tomatoes, you may need more sugar or salt.

Serve with pasta immediately or you can freeze this for later. I like to defrost and make it into a meat sauce, too.

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