4 Genius Ways to Use Up Less-Than-Perfect Tomatoes

4 Genius Ways to Use Up Less-Than-Perfect Tomatoes photo

When life gives you mediocre tomatoes, make grated tomato sauce. That’s Ashley Christensen’s philosophy anyway. When the Raleigh chef finds herself with tomatoes that looked a lot better than they taste­ or that taste great but have loads of blemishes, she makes quick work of them on a box grater, then briefly sautés the pulpy mess to create a sauce that tastes unmistakably of summer. “It’s about falling in love with that middle ground between raw and cooked tomatoes,” she explains.

Christensen—whose book, Poole’s, comes out this fall—scoops the sauce on a plate before setting down cooked shrimp, spoons it atop lamb meatloaf, and, naturally, finishes noodles in a pan of it for a quick pasta al pomodoro. “Simple is best,” she says, “and this is about as simple as it gets.”

Less-than farmers’ market tomatoes don’t have to be a summer bummer—we like to think of them as an opportunity. Here are three more ways we like to make the most of ones that aren’t slice-and-serve-with-olive-oil-and-flaky-salt delicious:

Add a hunk of fresh mozz to your newly-dried tomatoes. Photo: Kristina Gill

Halve them, arrange them on a wire rack set inside a sheet pan, and park them in a 200° oven overnight for DIY dried tomatoes.


This Grilled Salsa Roja breathes new life into lackluster tomatoes. Photo: Marcus Nilsson

Char aggressively under the broiler, then chop or food process before incorporating into a smoky pico de gallo or salsa for a smoky edge.


Michael Graydon & Nikole Herriott

Blanch, peel, and arrange snuggly in a baking dish. Add olive oil to mostly cover, season with salt, and confit in a 325° oven for an hour to create the ultimate side for grilled steak.

Get the recipe: Grated Tomato Sauce

Related: 25 Tomato Recipes for the Height of the Season

Learn to make fancy tomato roses à la Jacques Pépin:

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