The Best Cherry Tomato Recipes

The Best Cherry Tomato Recipes

My favorite summer recipes happen to include my favorite vegetable to grow in my garden — tomatoes. In fact, there have been years when my Southern Californian garden consisted of nothing but tomatoes. We grew about 15 varieties of tomatoes, and four of those fell into the cherry tomato category. When summer arrived, so did hundreds of tomatoes, and I found myself creating summer cherry tomato recipes for every occasion.

The Best Cherry Tomatoes

We tend to think of cherry tomatoes as the small, round, red tomatoes found in restaurant house salads everywhere. However, over 100 different cherry tomato varieties exist. Besides the most common red variety, these conveniently sized tomatoes can also be any color that larger tomatoes can be, like yellow, purple, brown, and orange. They can vary in size from a pea all the way up to a golf ball.

What Are the Best Cherry Tomato Varieties?

Cherry tomatoes taste sweet and flavorful. Many times my choice of tomato will depend on the color and size that best match the dish. 

If the recipe calls for raw tomatoes, I will select a variety of tomatoes in different colors for an eye-popping presentation. For a brown tomato, I like chocolate cherry tomatoes. Orange sun gold cherry tomatoes and yellow sun sugar cherry tomatoes are both excellent choices. My favorite red cherry tomatoes are the tiny sweet pea currant tomatoes. The sweet pea currants are definitely the cutest tomato you’ll ever see. Yes, tomatoes can be cute!

cherry tomatoes in a strainer

Cherry Tomatoes Versus Grape Tomatoes

The biggest difference between cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes is the shape. Cherry tomatoes are more round and grape tomatoes are more oblong. Cherry tomatoes tend to be juicier and sweeter with a thinner skin. Because the thicker skinned grape tomatoes have a longer shelf life, you will find them more readily available in the grocery stores. Don’t fret if you cannot find cherry tomatoes. You can substitute grape tomatoes in almost any recipe without complication or great loss of flavor.

Favorite Summer Cherry Tomato Recipes

Growing up with Italian grandparents, I most closely associate tomatoes with Italian food. No matter the season, at least one dish typically contained tomatoes at our Sunday dinners. So, most of my favorite summer cherry tomato recipes have Italian roots.

Favorite Summer Cherry Tomato Salad: Burrata Panzanella

Inspired by the Tuscan bread and tomato salad, Panzanella, this recipe continues to steal the show at my summer dinners. If you’re a cheese lover like me, this is the salad for you!

Burrata Panzanella, made with cherry tomatoes

Adding an incredibly creamy center to mozzarella results in the amazing cheese; burrata. The creaminess of the burrata combined with the crunchiness of the bread makes this summer salad extra delicious. The variety of cherry tomato colors along with red onions make it especially beautiful. 

With just a handful of ingredients and a simple balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing, this cherry tomato salad can be prepared in less than half an hour. As my go-to salad recipe for entertaining, Burrata Panzanella can act as an appetizer or side dish. Serve it with a charcuterie board al fresco for the perfect summer meal.

Favorite Summer Cherry Tomato Pasta: Orecchiette Pugliese

Living in San Diego where the year-round temperatures hover between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, I’ve become a bit of a “Goldilocks.” I don’t like to be too hot or too cold. So, in order to keep the house cool in summer, my number one cooking rule is not to use the oven. The stove will not heat up the house nearly as much, and, of course, a quick and easy recipe also helps keep things cool.

Orecchiette Pugliese

It seems fitting that this simple summer pasta dish comes from one of the hottest regions in Italy — Puglia. In Italy, each area has a specific pasta shape that you will find throughout the region. In Puglia, it is orecchiette, which means “little ears.” The ear shape perfectly holds the three main ingredients of Orecchiette Pugliese: crumbled sausages, spinach, and cherry tomatoes. 

Loaded with veggies, this Pugliese pasta makes an unexpectedly light summer dinner. Adding to the lightness of this dish is the sauce that naturally forms from the juice of the cherry tomatoes and olive oil. The sauce basically makes itself, so there’s no saucepot to clean — another reason I love this dish! Best of all, my family loves it too. It’s the summer dish they request the most!

Favorite Summer Cherry Tomato Salsa: Italian Checca

Think of Checca as Italian salsa. The classic Italian Checca can be made in minutes by chopping tomatoes, garlic, and basil, and adding a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. With such a simple recipe, it is imperative to use the freshest most flavorful tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes will fit the bill.

Pasta alla Checca with Cheese - Cherry Tomatoes - Photo by jeffreyw, Provided by Wikimedia

Just as versatile as salsa, Checca can be enjoyed in many ways. Give your grilled chicken or fish a flavor boost with Checca. Toss it with pasta, rice, or any grain for a refreshing side dish. Spread it on bread for a delightful appetizer. This Italian cherry tomato salsa will make almost any dish look and taste better!

Favorite Summer Cherry Tomato Sauce: Marinara Sauce

Contrary to popular belief, Marinara from scratch is a quick sauce for an easy summer dinner. If you have a garden full of cherry tomatoes, homemade Marinara should be on your list!

A marinara sauce made with cherry tomatoes

Because of their naturally high sugar content, cherry tomatoes are one of the best tomatoes to use for Marinara. You probably have the rest of the necessary ingredients (garlic, olive oil, basil, oregano, and onion) in your refrigerator or pantry. 

Additionally, this sauce freezes really well. Make a big batch and freeze the leftovers. You will not be sorry!

Favorite Summer Cherry Tomato Accompaniment: Blistered Tomatoes

Blistered cherry tomatoes go with almost any meal! Just heat a frying pan on high with a little olive oil, add the cherry tomatoes either whole or halved, and char lightly. In just a few minutes, you’ll have an accompaniment to perk up most any meal.

Blistered cherry tomatoes

If you’re grilling, put some cherry tomatoes on a skewer and rub them with olive oil. Watch them closely because they’ll cook quickly.

Top grilled chicken, steak, or fish with blistered tomatoes, add them to a charcuterie board or cheese platter, jazz up broccoli, green beans, or rice. Get creative! You cannot go wrong here.

Favorite Summer Cherry Tomato Appetizer: Caprese Skewers

In a pinch for a no-cook summer appetizer? Try this simple solution! Stick cherry tomatoes and mozzarella on a toothpick or small skewer, drizzle with balsamic reduction or glaze, and garnish with chopped basil.

Caprese skewers

Final Thoughts

Summertime is tomato time! No matter where you live, tomatoes taste best in summer when ripened on the vine. It’s when the best tomatoes of the year are available. 

At the peak of the season, you’ll find hundreds of tomato varieties offered. Try the many different varieties of cherry tomatoes. High in sweetness, they make a great choice for both raw and cooked tomato recipes. 

I hope some of my favorite summer cherry tomato recipes will brighten your table and become some of your staple recipes, too. 

Interested in more inspiration for your dinner table? Check out this food-inspired guide to Calabria.

22 thoughts on “The Best Cherry Tomato Recipes

  1. This burrata panzanella recipe looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I’m definitely going to have to try making it myself sometime this week.

  2. I love cherry tomatoes so much, and I can eat that every day. Love all those recipes and will def making one recipe every week.

  3. I never thought that there are varieties of cherry tomatoes. Anyway, I do want to try to make that burrata salad for my family.

  4. All recipes with cherry tomatoes look delicious. I just like to eat them as is. So flavorful!

  5. Cherry tomatoes are about the only tomato I will eat. These recipes sound amazing. I’ll have to try some.

  6. There are various ways you can benefit from using cherry tomatoes in your recipes. I love the healthy ones best. A summer salad is always my go-to.

  7. Your salad looks amazing! I would love it right now :). I just had some homemade pico de gallo so I can definitely relate to the magic of fresh tomatoes.

  8. My kids love any dish with tomatoes and this is the perfect recipe to try out sometime. I’m sure they would love this.

  9. I super love Cherry tomatoes! This is making me want to make pasta with some cherry tomatoes on top. 🙂

  10. I would love to have a garden filled with fresh cherry tomatoes ! Your bruschetta and blistered tomatoes look delicious ! I must try them out.

  11. Great recipe ideas! I would like to do the Capree Skewers! Looks so yummy! I need to harvest some cherry tomatoes now.

  12. I love cherry tomatoes and thanks for giving me more ideas on how to make great meals with them.

  13. We love doing our own sauces, so I think I will do sauces with cherry tomatoes, sounds like something my family will enjoy

  14. Cherry tomatoes are the best!! It’s the only type of tomato I’d just pop in my mouth. Your salad and pasta look delish – I love that they’re great for hot and cold dishes.

  15. I hadn’t heard of half of these terms/recipes but they all look delicious! I’m always down for caprese because I love balsamic vinegar!

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