Yes, cherry (small) tomatoes are the perfect size for eating raw as a snack or cutting in half to add to salads. But think again: When you cook whole cherry tomatoes until soft but still mostly intact, they give you a burst of tomato flavor when you bite into them that can’t be beat.
Cooking with whole cherry tomatoes
This spring, I planted eight cherry tomato plants, each a different variety. The plants did well, so they presented me with 1 inch or smaller yellow, orange, pink, red, and green orbs, all with a glorious balance of tanginess and sweetness. Here are a couple of ways I found to prepare my ongoing harvest.
- Microwave leftovers: Put cooked rice, legumes, beans, and/or vegetables in a microwave-safe bowl; toss in a few whole cherry tomatoes; and add one or more seasonings: nut butter, hot sauce, salsa, hummus, toasted sesame oil, tamari, balsamic vinegar, olives, tapenade, pesto, etc. Cover and microwave for 1 minute. If the tomatoes have softened a little, take the bowl out of the microwave; if not, microwave for an additional 30 seconds, check, and repeat until cooked the way you like. Stir and enjoy.
- Stovetop sauce: Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add whole cherry tomatoes in one layer. Allow tomatoes to brown on one side (don’t stir for a minute or two). Add chopped onions and mushrooms and sliced summer squash and cook until browned a bit. Add a fresh large tomato, tomato sauce, wine, or broth if the mixture needs liquid. Season with curry powder, chili powder, fennel seeds, and/or sage or your favorite spices. When the vegetables are soft and the cherry tomatoes have softened but are still mostly whole, the sauce is ready.
Once you start to cook with whole cherry tomatoes, I’m sure you’ll come up with other ways to use them. Know that I’d love to hear about your cherry tomato cooking adventures.