Bet You Never Thought of Using Tomatoes Like This

Julia Bainbridge
Food Editor

You put tomatoes on your pasta, you make salad with them, you blitz them into summery soup, and sometimes you just slice them to put on toast. But do you ever treat them like the fruits they, in fact, are? Meaning, have you ever thought to make dessert using them?


This recipe takes the classic tarte tatin, a rustic French upside-down tart most often made using apples, and subs in August’s best red nightshade. We first heard about it from food writer Ian Knauer in 2010, and we’ve been stuck on it ever since: “As the tomatoes cook in the caramel,” he wrote, “they become sweet and tender but retain their clean, fresh flavor.” Amen.

Watch the video above to see the tomato tatin in action. (If you’re a klutz, like we can be, consider ovenproof mitts.) And for more Consider This video, check out Celery SodaGrilled GuacamolePickled Chard StemsRoasted Strawberries, and Mint Pesto.

Heirloom Tomato Tarte Tatin
by Angela Gaines
Serves 6-8

6 large heirloom tomatoes
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 12” pre-made pie crust 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut shallow X in bottom of each tomato. Bring large pot of water to boil and add the tomatoes, cooking just until the skins at the X begin to peel back, about 30 seconds. Transfer tomatoes to bowl of ice water. Once cooled, peel the tomatoes, remove the cores, halve lengthwise, and remove the seeds.

In a 12” ovenproof nonstick skillet on low heat, melt the butter. Swirl the pan to evenly distribute the butter and then sprinkle in sugar, also being sure to coat the pan evenly. Add tomato halves, cut side down, filling the skillet but not overlapping.

Turn up heat to medium. Cook until sugar and butter are reduced to thick and bubbling syrup, about 25 minutes. Gently shake the pan to release the tomatoes and remove from heat. Drizzle vanilla over tomatoes and sprinkle with salt. 

Unroll pie crust and gently place on top of the tomato mixture. Tuck edges of crust into the lip of the pan so the crust reaches the bottom. Cut 3 1”-long slits in the dough, about ½” apart from each other. Bake until pastry is a deep golden-brown, about 24 minutes. 

Cool tart in skillet 10 minutes. Cut around sides of skillet to loosen pastry. Place large platter over skillet and flip, being careful of the caramelized sugar (it’s hot!). Serve at room temperature.