Recipes For Summer Tomatoes

Southerners are obsessed with tomatoes.

Do you remember that scene from Steel Magnolias where Ouiser has just plopped down a bag of home grown tomatoes and Clairee tells her not to give them all to her and Ouiser replies that she doesn’t even like them so someone has to take them. Anelle innocently asks, “Then why do you grow them?”

Ouiser replies with one of the best lines in the movie…”Because I’m an old Southern woman and we’re supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don’t ask me those questions. I don’t know why, I don’t make the rules!”

I must be a failure as an old southern woman because I do not grow my own tomatoes in the dirt. Instead, I do the next best thing. I buy them from local people who do grow them in their own dirt.

Honestly, there’s not much better than the first taste of a homegrown tomato in the summer. It is such a wonderful thing! Here are a bunch of recipes for summer tomatoes!

Round-up of Recipes For Summer Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes

Not every recipe on this list is going to be southern, because, let’s face it, Italians also know a thing or two about tomatoes. However, let’s start with one that is quintessentially southern, fried green tomatoes.

Fried green tomatoes are a little tart, a little sour, a little salty, a little greasy and a whole lot delicious. They are super easy to make as well! Really! You just slice them, and batter them in a buttermilk batter, then bread them in a cornmeal and flour mix and fry them in hot oil. For those of you who prefer a recipe this one from Southern Living is the pretty much the way we make our fried green tomatoes.

If you want to add to the decadence you can add your fried green tomatoes to this grilled pimento cheese and bacon sandwich!

Plate of fried green tomatoes. Recipes for summer tomatoes.

Cucumber and tomato salad

pale pink bowl of cucumber salad with tomatoes, green pepper, and feta cheese. This is one of our favorite recipes for summer tomatoes

Emily and I have been obsessed with this salad this summer. We’ve always made marinated cucumbers but this takes it to an even more heavenly place. This cucumber and tomato salad was inspired by the Spiralized Greek Cucumber Salad from the website Skinny Taste.

Our version is a chopped salad. We also use cucumbers and tomatoes from the farmer’s market. This recipe is light and refreshing and great as a side dish for grilled meats.

Check out our version of a chopped cucumber salad here.

Okra, corn, and tomatoes over rice aka Okra Gumbo

Okra, corn, and tomatoes sprinkled with bacon. Okra gumbo - one of our favorite recipes for tomatoes.

Another “oh so southern” recipe and another one of our family favorites!

There is a place in Dumas, a little town south of Little Rock, that grows a variety of corn that has never been genetically modified. You can sometimes find it at the local farmer’s markets but lots of us make the drive to Esau’s Farm to pick up a big ol’ bag of ears of corn. You have to get them quick when they are in season! The variety is called Triple Sweet and…y’all…when you taste this corn you just might feel like you have never really tasted corn before. It is that good.

Besides eating it off the cob we love it with okra and tomatoes. Stew these together and serve over rice sprinkled with some bacon and suddenly you have vegetable nirvana in a bowl. We call it okra gumbo and the recipe is here.

Caprese Salad

Nothing is easier for a simple summer lunch and not much is better! Just slice up some of the very best heirloom tomatoes you can find and layer those with slices of mozzarella cheese. Top with some basil leaves, drizzle with a little balsamic glaze, sprinkle on some kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper and…heavens to betsy!

So, so, good.

The balsamic glaze really adds some zing to your caprese salad. We like this one from Trader Joes.

Caprese salad. Tomato with mozzarella and basil and balsamic vinegar.


Panzanella is probably our favorite dish to make with perfectly ripe summer tomatoes. We adore Ina Garten’s panzanella recipe. It’s just right. Tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers and crusty bread all coated in a tangy, mustardy dressing. We do one thing differently than Ina – does anyone else feel as if those words are slightly heretical? I love Ina Garten so much that it feels wrong to change anything about her recipes…

However, on occasion, we add a little mozzarella to our panzanella. We use the mozzarella pearls and halve or quarter them to toss into the salad.

Lawsy mercy this stuff is delicious.

Bloody Mary with fresh tomatoes

Bloody Mary’s are a completely different drink when made with fresh tomatoes. They are fresher, lighter, a little brighter, and because the fresh tomato juice is less concentrated than bottled tomato juice they are actually a little less, well, tomato-y. These do use quite a few tomatoes so the time to make them is when your friend stops by with a bag of tomatoes from their overflowing garden or when the tomatoes at your local farm stand are plentiful. They are going to go in a blender so the tomatoes you use don’t have to be good looking.

We really like this recipe from Epicurious.

A few notes:

  • Notice that this recipe is for a party! It serves 16. Halve or quarter the amounts as needed.
  • This recipe calls for the tomatoes and celery to be put into a blender, but you can use a juicer if you have one and the texture will be smoother.
  • If you don’t drink alcohol these are great and healthy as a tomato/vegetable juice.
  • These are so forgiving! You might want to throw in some cucumber with the tomatoes and celery or use lime juice instead of lemon. You might like more or less horseradish. Don’t be afraid to try some different things to see what you like best.


Bruschetta is my favorite thing to make with fresh tomatoes. There is a restaurant in Little Rock called YaYas Euro Bistro. (it is part of a small chain so you might have one in your area.) Yayas serves a delicious bruschetta appetizer with balsamic basil tomatoes and wood fired goat cheese. It is amazing!

My husband is not a fan of goat cheese so at home this recipe from Cookie and Kate is the one we make. I like the bread toasted and basted with a little olive oil and sprinkled with a little salt. Definitely add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or some balsamic vinegar reduction to your bruschetta. Sometimes we grate a little parmesan cheese over the top for an extra kick!

The tomatoes are the stars of the show here so get the best ones you can find!

bruschetta with summer tomatoes


The most amazing, delicious, and healthy soup around. I am crazy about having gazpacho handy in the refrigerator in the summer.

You will find that there are many, many versions of gazpacho as well as many, many arguments about whether or not a recipe is “authentic.” There are recipes with all sorts of combinations of ingredients; recipes with peppers or without, with onions or without, with bread or without, with tons of olive oil or with only a little…it’s wild how many ways there are to prepare what is essentially a simple blended soup. You might have to experiment a bit to find the perfect combination of ingredients for you and your family.

I would start with this recipe from Gimme Some Oven. It uses a bit of bread to give the soup some body and a little else olive oil than many recipes you will find. I really like topping my gazpacho with some chopped cucumber and tomato and onion. Not only is it pretty, but I enjoy the crunch that it adds.

You can drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top of your gazpacho just before serving for some added richness.

Bloody Mary's with fresh tomatoes. One of our favorite recipes with summer tomatoes

Tomato pie

Tomato pie is definitely a southern dish and it can sound like a bit strange if you haven’t ever heard of it. It is basically tomatoes and cheese baked in a pie shell. Back when I first tried describing tomato pie to my husband he said, “You mean like…pizza?” Haha! Sort of, but no, not really.

tomato pie

I’ll be honest…even though I adore tomatoes and cheese I wasn’t a fan of tomato pie until recently. That is when I discovered Vivian Howard’s recipe for Southern Tomato Pie! Now I love it and I really believe that you will, too! By the way, I have mentioned in this post that Vivian Howard has written one of my favorite cookbooks. It is called Deep Run Roots and I think it is one of the essential southern cookbooks…but back to the tomato pie…

What I didn’t like about tomato pie before I found this recipe was that it could sometimes be a little runny due to the juice in the tomatoes. Soggy would be a good word to describe many of the recipes that I have tried in the past. No more. In this recipe you roast the majority of the tomatoes before they go in the pie – this not only takes away a lot of the moisture, but also intensifies the flavor.

Y’all, this recipe is really, really good. It is a little time consuming but so worth it!

Tomato Sandwiches

Here is the simplest of all the recipes for summer tomatoes on this list and maybe the best!

I dream of tomato sandwiches in the winter. Seriously. I fantasize about them – there is just no better summer lunch than a tomato sandwich and a glass of sweet iced tea. Just take two slices of really good whole wheat bread. If you are using a grocery store brand we suggest any of the varieties of Dave’s Killer Bread. Lightly toast the bread. Slather both slices with lots of mayonnaise – preferably Dukes. Add slabs of the best heirloom or home grown tomatoes you can find. Salt and pepper. Eat this amazing concoction slowly and savor every stunning bite.

Tip: Peel the tomatoes to make this even more delicious.

Hope you enjoy these recipes for summer tomatoes!

Thanks for stopping by,