As we savor the last months of the summer season, our chefs are just getting ready to add heirloom tomatoes to their menus. Other than being more colorful and oddly shaped than your everyday tomato, heirloom tomatoes really are special and are at their peak in the late summer, specifically August.

Heirloom Tomatoes

What makes a tomato an heirloom tomato? Bon Appetit Magazine said it perfectly:

“The seeds are what make an heirloom tomato an heirloom tomato. They are passed down from season to season, taken by the farmers from the tomato plants that produced the best fruit. This process allows farmers to select for certain desirable traits like juiciness, size, shape, or color. Heirloom tomatoes are also often open-pollinated, which means that they are pollinated naturally, by birds, insects, wind, or human hands. No weird science-y genetic modification here.” – Bon Appetit Magazine 

With such a short season, our best advice is to try ’em while they’re delicious so we rounded up a few of our favorite dishes from the perfect salads and summer pastas — even an Heirloom Tomato BLT Burger.

The perfect salads:

Osteria Via Stato’s Chef David DiGregorio is known for sourcing some of the best ingredients from local farmers and purveyors and one of his favorite things about summer is heirloom tomatoes. He is even hosting a dinner at the restaurant on August 16 dedicated to the ingredient, make your reservation now.

Osteria Via Stato Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad
Osteria Via Stato’s Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad

Stop by your local Farmer’s Market and pick up heirloom tomatoes and try Osteria’s Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad at home with this recipe!

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab offers an Heirloom Tomato Salad with pistachio basil Pesto, burrata, balsamic reduction.

Heirloom Tomato Salad at Joe's
Heirloom Tomato Salad at Joe’s

Wildfire’s Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad with vidalia onions, goat cheese and a red wine vinaigrette. (available at select locations for limited time only)

Wildfire Lincolnshire's Heirloom Tomato Salad
Wildfire’s Heirloom Tomato Salad

Over pasta:

Who knew these delicious delicacies are the key to making your pasta lighter. Beatrix’s Housemade Ricotta Ravioli incorporates heirloom tomatoes in the sauce and garnish, along with cherry tomato sauce, grana padano and fresh basil. 

Beatrix Heirloom Tomato Ravioli

Pro Tip from Beatrix Chef/ Partner, John Chiakulas:

    “You always want to leave heirloom tomatoes out at room temperature. Don’t refrigerate them unless they’re over-ripe. I always like to accent my heirloom tomatoes with fresh basil – it’s a marriage made in heaven for me!”

    Heirloom tomatoes

    On Toast: 

    Summer House Santa Monica rolled out a new summer menu that showcases seasonal dishes from local farms. One of our favorite offerings is the Heirloom Tomatoes Sliced to Order served with garlic aioli and grilled bread, which features tomatoes from Klein’s Farm in Elgin, IL.

    Heirloom Tomato Toast
    Heirloom Tomatoes Sliced to Order at Summer House

    Join Summer House and their friends from Klein’s Farm to celebrate heirloom tomatoes on Saturday,  August 18 before or after brunch, as part of the restaurant’s on-site Farmers Market Pop-Up series.