fb-pixel Skip to main content

Recipes: Summer tomatoes stand out in these side and salad dishes

A French casserole and two salad options make the most of tomatoes’ summer flavor.

Summer Tomato TianConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Most of the year, grocery store tomatoes need lots of love to taste decent. Thankfully, summer delivers amazing varieties that need little effort to shine. In our Provençal baked tomato casserole, tomato slices are simply shingled into a pie plate with fresh herbs and garlic for a tangy side. In a grape tomato salad, we complement them with a lemony dressing and herbs added by the handful to serve as the salad greens. And their in-season sweetness is an ideal match for a savory watermelon salad with goat cheese.

Summer Tomato Tian

Makes 4 servings

In Provence, France, a tian is a casserole of sliced vegetables as well as the round, shallow earthenware vessel in which the dish is baked. A classic tian showcases an assortment of summer produce, but here the focus is on tomatoes seasoned with garlic and herbs. We opt exclusively for plum tomatoes, which are firmer and drier than regular round tomatoes, and because they withstand long baking and yield deep, rich, concentrated flavor. Ripe, in-season tomatoes are best, of course, but even less-than-stellar fruits are good.

We love this served warm with crusty bread and cheese, but the dish can be refrigerated for up to a week and tucked into sandwiches or offered alongside grilled or roasted meats and seafood.


It’s fine if the tomatoes are tightly packed in the baking dish, as they will reduce in volume while baking.

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

4 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut crosswise into ¼- to ½-inch slices

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

6 sprigs fresh basil or 4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Burrata cheese, fresh mozzarella cheese, or flaky sea salt, optional, for garnish

Crusty bread, to serve

Heat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and sprinkle half of the garlic over the bottom. Arrange the tomatoes in concentric rings in the pie plate, shingling and tightly packing the slices.


Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then tuck the herb sprigs into the tomatoes and scatter on the remaining garlic. Drizzle evenly with the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil. Bake until the tomatoes are browned, bubbling, and meltingly tender, about 1½ hours. Cool for about 15 minutes. Garnish with the cheese and/or salt, if using, and serve with the crusty bread.

Grape Tomato Salad With Parsley and DillConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Grape Tomato Salad With Parsley and Dill

Makes 4 servings

In this simple salad with vibrant, contrasting colors, grape tomatoes are halved and salted to soften them slightly and season them through. Steeping the garlic and shallot in lemon juice for 10 minutes mellows their bite. To be efficient, use this time to prep the parsley and dill.

Add the dill just before transferring the salad to a serving vessel, because its delicate leaves wilt quickly and easily. The parsley is added sooner because it is sturdier.

The salad is especially good with grilled meats or seafood or spooned into pita bread.

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

¼ cup lemon juice

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 medium shallot, halved and thinly sliced

¾ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ cup lightly packed fresh dill, roughly chopped

In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with ½ teaspoon salt, then set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, garlic, shallot, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside for about 10 minutes. Add the shallot mixture, parsley, and oil to the tomatoes and toss well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the dill and toss. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a serving dish.


Tomato-Watermelon Salad With Goat CheeseConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Tomato-Watermelon Salad With Goat Cheese

Makes 4 servings

This is a salad for the height of summer, when tomatoes and melons are at their peak. The sweet fruit mingles with savory shallot, which has its pungency tempered by a short soak in white balsamic vinegar. Fresh basil (or mint) adds color and herbal notes, and creamy, tangy cheese balances with its saltiness.

2 cups (about 8 ounces) 1-inch cubes watermelon or honeydew

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into rough 1-inch chunks

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

1 medium shallot, sliced into thin rings

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil or mint, torn if large

Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

2 ounces fresh goat cheese or feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)

In a colander, toss the melon and tomatoes with ½ teaspoon salt; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the vinegar and shallot, then let stand for 10 minutes. Pour off and discard the vinegar, then add the melon-tomato mixture and basil to the bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the cheese.


Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.