Tomatoes: Fruit? Vegetable?

So let’s just be clear, tomatoes are botanically fruits – seeds inside being the first reason – but culinarily they are considered vegetables. They pair so comfortably with all things spicy, saucy, and savory that they show up on the list of must-have vegetables in your kitchen.

Whichever side you decide to defend, this is the time to use fresh tomatoes at the height of their season in salads, sauces and soups.

I look forward to this time to make a few recipes that can’t be made at any other time of the year. These include a fresh tomato sauce to be used with pasta, a salad that pairs tomatoes with stone fruit, and two soups that blend up in seconds to give a whole new approach to cold tomato soups.

For all the recipes below, make sure to use the freshest, ripest and highest quality ingredients possible.

Fresh Tomato Sauce for Pasta – Salsa Cruda
(Serves 6)


  • 1 pound pasta – Some recipes call for large shapes such as rigatoni, ziti, or fusilli, while others specify angel hair pasta. Yet again, a matter of choice.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for the pasta cooking water
  • 4 cups halved, vine ripened cherry tomatoes – they come in many colors, each with it own unique flavor
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper 

Other ingredients to add to tomato mixture, according to taste:

  • ½ cup flavorful pitted olives, lightly chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest


  • In a large serving bowl, toss the tomatoes with the oil, crushed red pepper and other ingredients you decide to use.
  • Let the tomato mixture marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes – even several hours – tossing occasionally.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Stir the pasta into the boiling water.
  • When the water returns to a boil, uncover the pot.
  • Cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente – tender but firm –following package directions.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • Drain the pasta well. Stir the reserved water into the tomatoes.
  • Add the pasta and toss. Add the Pecorino or Parmesan, toss again and serve.

Tomato-Strawberry Gazpacho
(Serves 4)


  • 1 lb. fresh tomatoes – rinsed, and quartered
  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries
  • Lime juice – juice of 1 or 2 limes
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves (2 T. chopped)
  • 1  T strawberry balsamic or regular balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper


  • Cut tomatoes into chunks, remove stems from strawberries.
  • Add everything to processor and process until soupy.
  • Chill and serve, or serve immediately.

Check the flavors to balance the tart and salt and the amount of tarragon you like… Of course, you could have this with vodka as a drink or a bit of vodka in the soup as a starter!

Summer Tomato Soup
(Serves 4)


  • 2 – 2 ½ lbs. mixed ripe organic tomatoes – some yellow, red, orange, heirlooms, etc.
  • Fresh tarragon (approximately 1 tablespoon leaves)
  • Lime juice – juice of 1 or 2 limes
  • Salt & Pepper


  • Cut tomatoes into chunks, add everything to processor and process until soupy… 
  • Chill and serve, or serve immediately…
  • You can also add the uncooked kernels from one ear or corn, cut off and added to the processor.
  • Check the flavors to balance the tart and salt and the amount of tarragon you like…

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad


  • 1 – 2 lbs. Fresh tomatoes – as ripe and tasteful as possible – sliced
  • 1 lb. perfectly ripe stone fruit: peaches, nectarines or plums – pitted an cut in slices or quartered
  • Handful of chopped herbs: basil, tarragon, cilantro, dill – either separately or combined
  • Balsamic vinaigrette – This is a good place to use a fruit-flavored balsamic: strawberry, raspberry, peach, etc. along with oil
  • Optional – fresh Mozzarella or Feta


  • Assemble tomatoes and fruit, herbs and crumbles or sliced cheeses if using on large platter.
  • Drizzle dressing over salad right before serving.