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Adlen Robinson: Grow those summer tomatoes and get cooking
tomatoes stock
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Of all of my favorite summer fruits and vegetables, my most loved ones are tomatoes. There is just no comparison between grocery store tomatoes and those grown in your own garden, or another garden. We have had a fairly steady crop of tomatoes and I am eating them every single day. I also love getting some heirloom or other varieties at the farmers market — check out the one at Vickery Village on Thursdays from 9 a.m. until noon. I got a delicious purple tomato last week that was as beautiful as it was tasty. Here are some yummy recipes starring the tomato. Enjoy! 

Tomato Pie

If you grew up in the south, you probably ate plenty of tomato pie at the Sunday potluck after church. Sometimes I make these as small, individual pies. If you use a store-bought pie shell, this dish comes together in just minutes. 

Tomato pie
Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

  • 1 9-inch pie shell (store-bought or homemade)

  • 6 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced in 1/4 -inch slices

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise (most Southerners insist on Duke’s brand)

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Extra salt and pepper 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sliced tomatoes on several layers of paper towels and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt. Top with another layer of paper towels and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine grated cheese, mayonnaise, basil, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  

Place one layer of tomato slices in a pie shell. Spread with half of the cheese mixture on top of the tomatoes. Add another layer of tomato slices, overlapping as necessary. Top with the remaining cheese mixture, pressing down slightly. 

Bake 35 to 45 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Tomato Jam

Tomato jam might sound odd, but this savory and sweet jam is delicious on toast, burgers, or served with cheese and crackers. 

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, preferably Romas, chopped

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 1/2 hours until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is “jammy.” Taste for seasoning and then cool.

Creamy Tomato Basil Chicken

Tomatoes and fresh basil are pretty much the perfect marriage. This creamy tomato basil chicken is quick to pull together and makes any meal special.  

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • Salt and pepper

  • 5 tomatoes, preferably Romas (but any tomato works)

  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream 

Season chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute a minute. Raise heat and add chicken and cook 5-8 minutes per side, until almost cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate. Add tomatoes and broth to the skillet and cook for 10 minutes. Add basil and cream and chicken back to the pan. Cook another 5 minutes and then serve.

Stuffed Tomatoes

These stuffed tomatoes are the perfect side dish for almost any meal. Just make sure the tomatoes are ripe.

  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1/3 cup basil leaves, finely minced

  • 1/2 cup, plus 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/4 cup best-quality olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half horizontally. Scoop out some of the pulp and the seeds. Sprinkle the insides of the tomato halves with salt. Turn the tomatoes upside down on a rack and let sit for 15 minutes. 

In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, basil, 1/2 cup parmesan, pepper and olive oil. Stuff tomatoes with the bread crumb mixture and top with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly. 


Pico de Gallo

  • 2-3 tomatoes, finely chopped

  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely minced

  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely minced

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced

  • Pinch of salt and pepper

  • 1 pinch dried oregano

  • 1 pinch cumin

Combine all ingredients. Taste for seasoning.