16 Stuffed tomatoes with garlicky bread crumbs: Stuffed tomatoes with garlicky bread crumbs: Slice the top one-third off large tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds. Place them in a baking dish so they fit tightly and season with salt. Grind cubes of stale bread with minced garlic and minced parsley and spoon the seasoned bread crumbs over top. Drizzle with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees until the bread crumbs are nicely browned.
17 Bacon and cherry tomato skewers: Bacon and cherry tomato skewers: Cut bacon strips in thirds lengthwise. Wrap each bacon piece around a cherry tomato and thread them onto skewers. Grill over a medium fire until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes.
18 Braised whole fish with tomatoes, thyme and olives: Braised whole fish with tomatoes, thyme and olives: Warm some olive oil, onion and garlic in a saucepan until fragrant. Add water, white wine, several sprigs of thyme, dried red chile flakes and salt and simmer. Arrange sliced tomatoes in a baking dish just large enough to hold a whole fish (such as Tai snapper). Scatter chopped pitted olives and minced parsley. Lay the fish on top. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil and pour it over the fish. Seal tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees until the fish lifts easily from the bone. Remove from the oven and let stand briefly before serving.
19 Bread salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and arugula: Bread salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and arugula: Cut about one-half loaf of stale country-style bread into large chunks and soak in water to cover. Seed and chop tomatoes and put them in a bowl with sliced cucumbers, salt, pepper, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Set aside to draw the juice from the tomatoes. Squeeze the bread cubes dry and add them to the tomato mixture with some diced red onion. Scatter several good handfuls of arugula over top and stir to combine.
20 Tomato risotto with burrata: Tomato risotto with burrata: Make a plain risotto and when it's done stir in peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes off the heat. Chop one-quarter of a burrata ball and stir it in briskly until the cheese melts and gets stringy. Stir in slivered basil and serve while hot.
21 Tomato and grilled corn salad: Tomato and grilled corn salad: Grill a couple ears of corn. Shuck them and cut away the kernels into a mixing bowl. Add halved cherry tomatoes or diced tomatoes and season with diced red onion, a little minced garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Add a couple handfuls of arugula and toss well to combine. Arrange on a platter; use a vegetable peeler to shave Parmigiano-Reggiano over top.
22 Stuffed tomatoes II: Stuffed tomatoes II: Make the marinara sauce from No. 3, adding capers and a splash of white wine. Make the breadcrumbs from No. 16 and add four chopped anchovies and about one-third cup toasted pine nuts. Slice the top one-third off large tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds. Spoon the sauce into a roasting pan and arrange the tomatoes on top, so they fit tightly. Stuff the tomatoes lightly with the breadcrumbs; don't pack it tightly or the stuffing will get pasty. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees until the tops are browned and crusty and the tomatoes are melting in texture. Serve hot or at room temperature.
23 Grilled sardines with confit tomatoes: Grilled sardines with confit tomatoes: Prepare tomato confit I (No. 11). Flavor olive oil with salt, minced garlic, dried oregano and red chile flakes. Season sliced cucumbers with salt and lemon juice. Arrange the cucumbers in a low mound on a platter. Dip cleaned sardines in the oil mixture and grill on the skin side until done, three minutes. Place them on top of the cucumbers and spoon over some of the confit tomatoes, including a little of the flavored oil.
24 Tomato salad with Tomato salad with burrata:Make a tart tomato salad by seasoning chopped tomatoes with a little garlic, salt, black pepper, olive oil and a good splash of red wine vinegar. Cut a ball of burrata in quarters and place it in the middle of a plate, opened out like a flower. Spoon the salad around it and serve with crostini. This is also good made with halved cherry tomatoes that have been seasoned this way and then roasted in a hot oven just until they blister.
25 Peperonata: Peperonata: Sauté peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes with onion and olive oil. Add roasted, peeled bell peppers cut into strips. Stir in a splash of red wine and simmer until the mixture cooks into a marmalade. At the very end, stir in a sauce made by grinding a jalapeno, garlic, basil, parsley and olive oil to a thin paste. Serve hot or at room temperature.
26 Ratatouille: Ratatouille: Sauté onions in olive oil until they're tender and transfer them to a big pot. Sauté zucchini until tender and add that to the pot. Sauté eggplant until tender and add that to the pot. Add peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes and red wine vinegar and cook until they thicken. Add them to the pot; heat everything through to combine flavors. Garnish with torn basil leaves and serve hot or at room temperature.
27 Scrambled eggs with tomatoes and basil: Scrambled eggs with tomatoes and basil: Adapted from Richard Olney's "Simple French Food." Cook peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes with a little olive oil and several peeled whole garlic cloves over low heat until the tomatoes are dry. Discard the garlic and add raw eggs beaten with butter and scramble until set but still moist. When the eggs begin to thicken, add a good handful of basil leaves.
28 Tomatoes stuffed with tuna: Tomatoes stuffed with tuna: Make a tuna salad with best-quality canned tuna, blanched green beans, mayonnaise, capers and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Slice the tops off the tomatoes, scoop out the pulp and fill with the salad. This is particularly good when made with smoked tuna.
29 Roasted cherry tomatoes stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies: Roasted cherry tomatoes stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies: Cut cherry tomatoes in half and scoop out the pulp. Place a small piece of anchovy in the cavity and top it with enough finely diced mozzarella to fill. Broil until the mozzarella melts and bubbles, about five minutes. Top with a small piece of fresh basil and serve immediately.
30 Tomato and bread soup: Tomato and bread soup: Adapted from Alice Waters' "Chez Panisse Vegetables." Cook minced onions and garlic in a lot of olive oil until soft. Spoon out about one-third of the onion mixture and add peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are very tender and pass through a food mill. Return the tomatoes to the pan with the reserved onions and over very low heat, stir in enough fresh bread crumbs to thicken the soup. Stir in some basil and more olive oil. Serve hot or at room temperature.
THE CALIFORNIA COOK