Vegan Cooking Tips

What to Do With All Those Tomatoes?

By Chef Nancy Berkoff

Fresh green, red or yellow tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato purée, tomatoes from the vine, tomatoes from the can or jar... There is a form of tomato for just about every taste and purpose!


One of the easiest ways to use fresh tomatoes in season is to make salsa. You can start with a base of lots of chopped tomatoes (either all fresh or a combination of fresh and canned), a bit of chopped onion, and your choice of chili (from mild bell pepper to super hot fresh, canned, pickled, or dried chilies).

With your salsa base, use what is available to create a condiment, cold soup, salad dressing (you’ll purée your salsa), or a side dish. For example, adding cooked black beans or garbanzos, chopped celery, and corn makes a delicious salsa, side dish, or a great sauce for cooked grains or potatoes. Toss salsa with leftover chopped green salad and use as a sandwich, wrap, or burrito filling. Mix salsa with leftover cooked pasta, and you have a refreshing cold side pasta salad. Add some smoked tofu, cooked white beans, or chopped seitan and you have an entrée!

Tomato-Based Cooked Dish

If you feel like cooking, a wonderful tomato-based dish called Shashuka in the Middle East (or Eggs in Purgatory in the Mediterranean) is easy to veganize and very versatile. Chop and sauté onions, garlic, bell pepper, cumin, and red pepper flakes or chili until you have a soft mixture. Add in lots of fresh or canned diced tomatoes and a small amount of tomato paste, and then allow the dish to simmer. The traditional method is to crack eggs into the simmering tomatoes. For our vegan version, we could add crumbled extra-firm tofu. Serving the tomato mixture over mashed potatoes or noodles makes a great dish! Depending on what’s available, mushrooms, garbanzos, parsley or cilantro, basil, diced carrots, diced celery, sliced olives, or leftover cooked grains can be added to create many dishes from one base.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes lend themselves to stuffing. For cold stuffed tomatoes, you can create a bean-based salsa, tofu and chopped salad mixed with your favorite salad dressing, chopped mushrooms and hummus, or a medley of chopped bell peppers with cooked, chilled lentils and use these as stuffing. For hot stuffed tomatoes, use leftover potatoes or cauliflower, mashed and seasoned with garlic and onions or leftover cooked grains, seasoned with your favorite spice blend, and mixed with tomato sauce as a stuffing.