If you ask me, people don't overcook their vegetables often enough. The truth is, vegetables can sometimes be absolutely delicious when cooked until there isn't a trace of crispness left. In fact, some vegetables practically require long cooking—like these long beans braised in tomatoes, which are best only after you've cooked them to death.
'Tomato' on Serious Eats
There are some vegetables that are just fine all year round, and some that get better during their season. Then there are tomatoes. When they're at their juicy, tender peak in late summer, combine them with bacon and mayonnaise on a toasted English muffin for the finest breakfast you could ask for.
There are lots of tabbouleh recipes in the world, but many give instructions that can lead to a sopping wet salad with bulgur that's too hard to eat. This one uses pre-salting steps to remove excess moisture from the tomatoes and parsley, then uses the water drained from the tomatoes to soak the bulgur until tender and flavorful. A hint of spices adds complexity and depth.
Pasta salad with raw tomatoes and basil is a common summertime dish. Here we give it a thoughtful upgrade by cooking the tomatoes just until bursting, so that they release their rich juices into a flavorful sauce that coats the pasta even when cooled. It's a new summertime must.
Come summertime, most of us want foods that somehow manage to satisfy while still seeming light and refreshing. No dish better delivers on both counts than the classic iceberg wedge salad, a retro creation that is all about simplicity. And yet, to be the celebration of flavor and texture that it should, we need to make sure to cut the toppings small and play up contrast in flavor and texture wherever possible.
This deep-fried hors d'oeuvre is part caprese salad, part mozzarella stick, and completely welcome at any get-together.
You can stop at classic fresh egg pasta, or you can transform the pale yellow noodles into a rich orange hue. This recipe is as easy to make as traditional Italian pasta, only it's colored with some added tomato paste. It yields a tender and delicate neutral-flavored pasta that goes with just about anything.
Deeply flavored roasted zucchini and tomatoes are the star of the dish; pasta just plays a supporting role. Slow-cooking garlic and rosemary infuses olive oil with flavor that fills the entire bowl, while a dusting of our dehydrated olive and miso shake gives it over-the-top savory flavor.
This pizza sauce from The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens & Tips to Inspire Your Cooking, by Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand, gets an interesting lift from lemon zest.
Loosely based on Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad, this easy make-ahead salad combines grape tomatoes (sweet and ripe any time of year) with cucumber, parsley, mint, and quinoa for a bright and refreshing make-ahead salad that's hearty enough to serve as a light meal.
This no-fuss, fail-safe oven-roasted tomato sauce is loaded with bold ingredients: salami, sherry vinegar, kalamata olives, capers and a smashed anchovy, all tied together with olive oil and a touch of white wine. Its secret ingredient? A bit of maple syrup for sweetness. Then, it's tossed with al dente spaghetti noodles and showered with Pecorino and lemon zest.
A sacred Italian-American institution, Sunday gravy is a meat-forward, all-day-simmered dish with as many recipes as there are Italian families who make it. My version incorporates flank steak braciole, Italian sausage, tender meatballs, and pork ribs along with onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, all simmered together in a rich red sauce.
There are times when you can stand over the stove all day, slowly cooking that red sauce down. Then there are times when you need to put dinner on the table in under an hour. For those moments when convenience trumps patience, this is the red sauce to turn to. Simmered with plenty of garlic, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and basil, this sauce can be whipped up in no time but still has that deep, rich, long-cooked flavor.
I spend a lot of time writing about complex techniques, but in truth, most of the stuff I like to cook for myself at home is pretty simple. This is one of those nice and easy summer dishes that relies only on great produce—zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes—and simple technique, but comes with a little bit of a rough twist at the end.
When I make salsa at home, it's usually super simple: fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro and lime, and a spoon to eat it with. This version, from Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave's restaurants-cum-cookbook, Tacolicious, isn't much more complicated, but is much more interesting. It's the salsa that welcomes you on arrival to the Tacolicious restaurants, and will be the standard in my kitchen from now on.
A medley of fresh herbs—basil, thyme, parsley, cilantro, and mint—combines with arugula, grape tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, and two types of olives for a bright, intensely flavorful end-of-summer salad.
Deeply fragrant with smoky charred edges, cabbage takes on a nutty, sweet flavor when grilled over blazing hot coals, and a great texture that's simultaneously tender and crisp. Its layered structure also makes it the ideal vessel for picking up both smoke flavor from the grill and whatever sauce you choose to serve it with. In this case, we're going with a rich blue cheese dressing, tomatoes, and—if you want them—bacon bits.
This is one of my favorite salads of all time and an absolute classic: corn grilled until it's smoky and sweet, then tossed with ripe end-of-season tomatoes in a light lemon and olive oil dressing. Salty chunks of feta and a ton of fresh herbs finish it off. As simple and delicious as recipes come.
Oh, Tomato Tart, how you haunt my dreams! (Divine and wicked, from Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell's The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook.) Couldn't you have been less flaky, less creamy, less juicy-tomatoey? Or couldn't you at least have been more arduous or taken longer to put together? Then I wouldn't have blinked and devoured half a sheet of buttery puff pastry awash in milky ricotta and goat cheese.
Sweet, silky, and absolutely delicious, this breading-free version of eggplant parm made in Italy is well worth trying, especially in late summer when eggplant (and tomatoes!) are at their best.