15 Genius Tomato Recipes, Because It's the Best Time of Year

Most are pasta, since we love you.

July  2, 2019

With Genius Recipes correspondent Kristen off for a few months trying to raise a genius newborn, we’re revisiting the column’s Greatest Hits with brand-new videos—and hearing from a few special surprise guests. Wish her luck! (And keep sending those tips.)

Behold: 15 genius things we can do with tomatoes (besides this). There's a no-knead pizza, a spicy soup or two, and a glorious, saucy casserole known as scalloped tomatoes.

Many more are pastas (but really, are you mad about that?)—and we'll start with the most genius of them all:

1. Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter

Who knew that three ingredients plus barely any active work equaled the most nuanced, buttery tomato sauce out there? Don't forget bread on the side, for dipping.

2. Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

Pasta brings its own sauce to the party when it cooks at the same time as cherry tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a few other friends.

3. Yotam Ottolenghi's Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce

Tomatoes (and tomato paste) deepen the flavor of the eggplant sauce that tops this fresh corn polenta.

4. Sarah Leah Chase's Scalloped Tomatoes

A little garlic and basil—plus bread, for sopping—make fresh tomatoes their best selves.

5. Michael Ruhlman's Pasta with Tomato Water, Basil, and Garlic

Ripe tomatoes, spaghetti, garlic, basil, and butter join forces for a speedy weeknight pasta that tastes anything but simple.

6. Alice Waters' Ratatouille

This genius ratatouille is equally perfect hot or cold, plated nicely or eaten straight from the baking dish (you know, moments after your guests leave).

7. Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough + Margherita Pie

This iconic no-knead dough gets topped with fresh, peeled Roma tomatoes—which, yes, you get to squeeze with your hands till they're broken down to a sauce.

8. Ina Garten's Pasta alla Vecchia Bettola

Ina's creamy sauce stars canned tomatoes, and has a clever secret for getting them deeply jammy: oven-roasting.

9. Al Forno's Penne With Tomato, Cream & 5 Cheeses

Good luck finding a speedier—or more delicious—baked pasta.

10. Rick Bayless' Tortilla Soup with Shredded Chard

A ripe tomato gets roasted below a hot broiler until blistered, then adds lots of body to this smoky soup.

11. Chris Schlesinger & John Willoughby's Grilled Sausage and Cornbread Salad

Cornbread makes an appearance in this tomatoey, panzanella-like salad—oh, and the whole thing gets topped with grilled sausage.

12. Barbara Lynch's Spicy Tomato Soup

This spicy tomato soup is vegan, requires just five ingredients (psst: you probably already have them), and comes together in just about the time it'll take to decide your next Netflix binge-watch.

13. Marcella Hazan's Braised Celery with Onion, Pancetta, and Tomatoes

Leave it to Marcella to make the list twice, this time with a tomatoey braised celery you're going to want to top with a crispy fried egg.

14. Craig Claiborne's Pasta con Asparagi

This pasta is pretty much a highlight reel of all the best sauces, smooshed together: tomato, carbonara, and asparagus.

15. Andy Ward & Jenny Rosenstrach's Pork Shoulder Ragu

Meet the life-changing ragu you can make completely ahead—like, up to two full days beforehand.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it Kristen’s way (and tell her what’s so smart about it) at [email protected]
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Joans
  • Sally
  • witloof
  • gandalf
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Joans July 6, 2020
“An Italian Tomato Sauce With Butter”
My sister made Marcella Hazan’s sauce I believe as far back as the 70s. Finding out the sauce was made with butter, I thought to myself (especially coming from an Italian background) what kind of Italian recipe is this?
Well, it was delicious & I then bought Marcella’s cookbook. We still talk about that tomato sauce up until this day...almost 50 years later!
Sally July 3, 2019
Molly Wizenberg's Slow Roasted Tomatoes
witloof July 2, 2019
I love a sort of recipe from Mario Batali: slice up some garlic, cook it lightly in olive oil, add some halved Sungold tomatoes and saute them just for a minute or two. While that's happening make some pasta. Drain it, add it to the skillet, toss, add a few shredded basil leaves and a handful of grated Parmesan.
gandalf July 2, 2019
Actually, "the most genius of them all" is this:

(1) In late July go into your garden and pick a lovely ripe slicing tomato -- German Johnson, Cherokee Chocolate, Brandywine, or Black Prince -- and take it inside your house. (Or go to a farmer's market and buy such a tomato; then take it home.)

(2) Wash it off, then dry it with a towel.

(3) Slice thickly, salt lightly, put on a plate, and eat right away.

(4) Do not let it come near a refrigerator.