One bite of a flavorless, mealy tomato in January is enough to tell you that keeping it seasonal is best. Flavor also diminishes during long transit times, so buy from a farmers’ market whenever possible – or grow your own! Varieties in endless colors and patterns add instant visual appeal to your summer salads, sandwiches and any dishes you dream up.
Peak Season: June to August
How to select: Choose local, just-picked tomatoes for best flavor and texture. Look for smooth, unblemished skin that is just slightly firm.
Price: $2 to $6 per pound, with heirloom varieties on the high end
Keep it fresh: Keep at room temperature away from direct sun and eat ASAP. Never refrigerate tomatoes – it makes the texture mushy.
Pairs well with: Eggplant, garlic, onions, peaches, chile peppers, sea salt, cannellini beans, basil
Creative uses: Salads like Caprese, Greek or panzanella showcase peak-season flavor. Make a super-fresh pasta sauce by quickly sautéing chopped tomatoes and garlic in olive oil on medium heat.
Nutrition highlights: Packed with vitamin C and beta-carotene, tomatoes also contain a wide array of phytonutrients, such as quercetin, ferulic acid, and lycopene, which work to reduce the effect of free radicals on organs and cells.