Tomatoes: The Ultimate Taste of Summer

by Brenda Hyde

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Nothing brings to mind summer like the fresh taste of homegrown tomatoes. One container of potting soil and a tomato plant will allow you to enjoy fresh tomato dishes with just a little effort and a few ingredients.

Growing Your Tomatoes

Tomatoes fall into categories such as determinate, which means they grow to about 3 feet and stop; semi-determinates which grow to 5 foot or so, and finally, indeterminates, which will continue to grow until they are killed by frost. For a simple tomato to start off with, visit your garden center and ask for a determinate tomato plant. You will also need a 14 inch pot and potting soil. You can support your plant with a stake, or a tomato cage as it grows. Plant your tomato by stripping off all but the top 4-5 leaves and put them into the dirt deeply where the leaves are about the soil line. Be sure to place your pot in full sun, and keep the soil moist, but avoid wetting the leaves. You also can fertilize every two weeks if you wish. I do not use chemicals on my plants because I have children and prefer to avoid them. If you have fish, the water from the fish tank is a good thing to use in place of fertilizer. If you have room for more than one tomato by all means grow as many as you can! You can also visit a farmer's market or road side stand to buy your tomatoes for these wonderful, nutritious recipes.

White Bean and Tomato Salad


  • 1 (15 ounce can) white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup (1/2 pound) tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/3 cup minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. each basil, thyme, and oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients; toss gently to mix. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 4.

Green Beans and Tomato Italian


  • 3/4 pound green beans
  • 1/2 cup red onion rings
  • 1/4 cup Italian dressing
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Place green beans, onion and dressing in microwaveable bowl; cover. Microwave on high 8-10 minutes or until beans are tender-crisp , stirring after 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and basil. Serves 6.

Broiled Tomatoes


  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano or basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Wash tomatoes, slice in half crosswise. Place on baking sheet, cut side up. Mix crumbs, seasonings and oil. Sprinkle mixture on each tomato. Broil 8-10 inches from heat about 4 minutes or until golden brown. Garnish with parsley sprigs. Serves 4. Calories 76, Fat 4 g, Cholesterol 8 g, Protein 2 g

Tomato Cottage Cheese Salad


  • 1 (12 ounce) carton cottage cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. each of dried basil and oregano or 1 tsp. fresh 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 medium to large tomatoes, sliced
  • Lettuce

Combine cottage cheese, herbs and salt. Arrange 3 tomato slices on lettuce for each salad. Top with a mound of cottage cheese. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh chives on each salad. Makes 6 servings.

Italian Chicken, Tomato and Bread Salad


  • 4 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 4 grilled chicken-breast halves, cut in strips
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed Italian bread (1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup bottles Italian dressing
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Mix all ingredients in a large serving bowl. Let stand 30 minutes for flavors to blend, or refrigerate up to 6 hours. Serves 5.

For more fresh herb recipes subscribe to Brenda's newsletter Herbs 'N Spices, each week a different herb or spice is featured with recipes. Send an email to: or visit her at

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