Summer is the best for many reasons, but the one close to the top of our list is tomatoes. Whether you buy them at the farmers market or grow them yourself there are a zillion uses for tomatoes, but once you get past the initial whirlwind of fresh tomato sandwiches and salads, you may find yourself searching for something more creative to do with your haul. Never fear: We've searched the internet and found a ton of fantastic recipes. Turn the page for five creative ways to get your summer on.   

5. Kim O'Donnel's Ratatouille

Kim O'Donnel is a cookbook author from Seattle who used to write a recipe column for the Washington Post. Her recipes, often adapted from other cookbook authors, were fantastically simple and delicious, and one of my all time favorites is this ratatouille recipe, which has become an absolute staple. It's great because it uses not just tomatoes but a bunch of other mid-late summer herbs and vegetables. Great as a side for a simple roast chicken or just on its own with crusty bread.

The July/August issue of Martha Stewart Living; Credit: B. Rodell

The July/August issue of Martha Stewart Living; Credit: B. Rodell

4. Martha Stewart's Tomato Ombre on Grilled Rustic Bread

This month's Martha Stewart Living, pictured above, has a cover that can only be described as tomato porn. The issue and website have the recipe for the Tomato Ombre on Grilled Rustic Bread featured on the cover, as well as a bunch of other great heirloom tomato recipes like tomato and mango salad and pasta with marinated tomatoes and lobster.

3. Amanda Hesser's Tomato, Fig, Goat Cheese, Basil, and Olive Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

The 2010 Essential New York Times Cookbook is, well, essential, and this recipe is one of the fantastic summer recipes from the book. Luckily the James Beard Foundation adapted the recipe for their website, so you can make it even without buying the book. Really though, you ought to buy the book.

2. Food & Wine's Rustic Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a great summer staple — you can make huge batches of it and leave it in the fridge, then snack on it for lunch or before dinner for a few days (the vinegar in it helps it to keep). It's cooling and refreshing and delicious. Food & Wine has a whole list of “best gazpacho recipes,” but our favorite is the classic slightly chunky rustic version.

1. Il Grano's Totally Tomato dinner

During Wednesdays in the summer, Il Grano on Santa Monica Boulevard serves an all-tomato tasting menu. A couple of years ago, Bon Appetit printed recipes for this tomato feast: grilled shrimp with tomato tartare, steak with San Marzano sauce and tomato, basil and ricotta gelati. There's even a recipe for a Bloody Mary made with fresh tomatoes.

See also:

– It's Peach Season: 5 Great Recipes

– Cherry Season is Almost Over: 5 Great Cherry Recipes To Make The Most of It

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