Tomatoes need to be prepared correctly if you are going to show them off to the best of their ability.

By Stacey Ballis
May 30, 2019
Stacey Ballis

Tomato season is coming. In some parts of the country, the first ones are already making their appearances at farmers’ markets and stores, and gardeners everywhere are watching their freshly planted greenery flower and wait in breathless anticipation for the summer bounty.

But once the deluge hits, it will be like a tomato tornado, and whether you are growing your own, overbuying them at the market, or are the recipient of a neighbor’s garden overflow, you are going to need to manage all the tomato prep.

Tomatoes are one of those fruits (yes, they are a fruit) that can enhance many dishes, or be the star all on their own. But they also need to be cut and prepared correctly if you are going to show them off to the best of their ability. Here is a quick guide to help you get through your summer, deliciously!

Proper gear

There are two key pieces of equipment you need to properly address your tomato needs. The first is a small sharp paring knife, for removing the cores. The second, and most important, is a super sharp serrated knife. I have a knife I use solely for tomatoes, since the tiniest bit of dullness on your blade could spell disaster. Tomatoes are round, soft, and slippery, so you need a blade that will instantly “bite” into the skin and move smoothly through the flesh without crushing the tender fruit or siding off the tomato skin and into your skin.

Coring

No matter how you intend to use your tomato, you are going to want to remove the hard core at the top where the tomato hung from the vine. To do this, hold the tomato firmly on your cutting board with one hand. With the other hand, use the tip of your sharp paring knife to slice in an angled circle around the core, turning the tomato as you go, making a pyramid shaped divot, and remove the core. Now you can decide what type of tomato prep you need.

Get the recipe: Tomato Salad With Goat Cheese and Basil

Slices

Fresh ripe tomatoes can be a great addition to a sandwich or burger, or the star of a dish like a caprese salad or stacked vegetable terrine. For sandwiches, you are going to want thinner slices, since larger ones can be unwieldy in a sandwich, for knife and fork dishes, you can go thicker. In either case, you want to hold the tomato up on its side, firmly, with your fingers tucked under. Using your serrated blade, make gently sawing movements to make slices the thickness you prefer.

Get the recipe: Caprese Salad

Diced

Diced tomatoes are great on salads, as a topping for tacos, or even a fresh addition to pasta. To determine the size of dice, you want to start by slicing your tomato the thickness of the cube of tomato you want. For fine dice, slice thin, for larger cubes, slice thicker. Lay the slices down flat on your cutting board, and slice into strips about the same thickness as the slice, then turn and slice the strips into cubes.

Get the recipe: One-Pot Pasta With Spinach and Tomatoes

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