Would you believe ... tomato ice cream?

For serious tomato lovers, there’s tomato popcorn.
For serious tomato lovers, there’s tomato popcorn. THE WASHINGTON POST

I am an insatiable collector of tomato recipes, from cookbooks, cooking buddies and myriad online sites. One of the best sources has been The Washington Post’s annual tomato recipe contest, which draws some intriguing (and sometimes just weird) creations. Here is a selection of the unusual recipes for tomatoes that I’ve run across.

Tomato popcorn

Serves 4 to 8 (makes 8 to 9 cups)

This is a why-didn't-we-think-of-it kind of snack for serious tomato lovers that captures the tang of the fruit and the crunch of buttery popcorn.

DIYers will want to make their own tomato powder, as Becky Hamill of Lewes, Del., does, by dehydrating, then pulverizing dried tomatoes; see the note, below. The powder is good for enhancing tomato flavor in soups, stews and other recipes year-round. Otherwise, tomato powder is available through

Hamill says this is her new favorite way to use all her summer tomatoes.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup good-quality popping corn

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm

2 tablespoons tomato powder (see note below)


Heat a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and popping corn; cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook, shaking the saucepan regularly, until all the kernels have popped. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl. Pour the warm, melted butter (to taste) evenly over it and toss gently to coat, then sprinkle with the tomato powder and season lightly with salt.

Serve right away.

Note: To make tomato powder using a dehydrator, cut Romas or garden tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange them on the racks of a dehydrator; dehydrate for 4 to 12 hours, depending on their moisture content. Check every 2 hours for doneness; the slices should be thoroughly dried and will snap when you try to bend them.

Working in batches, crumble the pieces into a dedicated (clean) spice grinder; pulverize to a powder. Transfer to an airtight container; the tomato powder can be kept in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

Per serving (based on 8): 90 calories, 2 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 40 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar

Ginger tomato ice cream

Makes 5 1/2 cups

Kathy Miles came up with this ice cream for the Washington Post contest one year and made the finals. You’ll need an ice cream maker.

Make ahead: The assembled ice cream needs to be frozen for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

Note: To peel tomatoes, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Cut an “X” in the bottom of the tomato and remove the stem. Place a couple of tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds – no longer. Use a slotted spoon to quickly transfer the tomatoes to the ice water. The skin should simply slip off.

For the tomatoes and tomato paste:

4 cups whole peeled tomatoes, from 3 to 3 1/2 pounds plum or other meaty tomatoes, or more as needed

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons garam masala

2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the ice cream:

2 large egg yolks

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups whole or low-fat milk

2 tablespoons packed peeled, shredded ginger root (using the large-hole side of a box grater)

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

For the tomatoes and tomato paste: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Working with one at a time, hold each tomato over the strainer, cut it in half horizontally and scoop out the insides and any hard or pithy areas, letting them fall into the strainer. Tear the tomato flesh into large chunks and transfer them to a separate medium bowl. Use the back of a large spoon to press the tomato flesh in the strainer, pressing as much juice as possible into the bowl. Drain any liquid from the cut tomatoes and add it to the bowl with the juice. If you do not have 2 cups of juice, cut more tomatoes to get it.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the tomato chunks on the sheet in a single layer. Combine the brown sugar and garam masala in a small bowl, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the tomatoes. Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the tomatoes are dried but still have softer, fleshy parts. (They should not be as hard as sun-dried tomatoes.) Meanwhile, combine the 2 cups of reserved tomato liquid and 2 teaspoons of the granulated sugar in a heavy medium saucepan.

Taste, and add up to 4 teaspoons of the granulated sugar to make a sweet juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the liquid is somewhere between a heavy syrup and a paste in consistency. When it begins to get very thick, stir it constantly. You will have a little less than 2 tablespoons. Let cool, but do not refrigerate.

For the ice cream: Beat the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on medium speed, until they are pale yellow in color. Reduce the speed to low; combine the sugar and flour, then gradually add the mixture to the beaten yolks, until thoroughly incorporated. Gradually add the milk, beating to incorporate. Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the mixture steams and thickens slightly to form a custard; do not allow it to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the ginger. (Do not add the ginger earlier, or the custard will curdle.) Once the custard has cooled, transfer it to the refrigerator to chill.

To assemble: Cut the dried tomatoes into bite-size pieces to yield 1 cup. Reserve any extra for another use. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer. If you like a strong ginger flavor, press the shreds against the sieve to force out more of their moisture. Discard the ginger. Add the cream to the custard and mix well. Transfer to an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. Use a flexible spatula to swirl the tomato syrup/paste into the soft ice cream, then add the tomatoes, distributing them evenly. By this point the syrup/paste should be evenly distributed, too, but it’s fine if there are swirls left. Transfer the mixture to the freezer to firm up for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

Tomato shortcakes

Serves 6 to 8 (makes 12 to 16 small shortcakes)

This looks like a dessert but is savory – try it for an appetizer or first course. Recipe from Nancy Luse via The Washington Post. Note: You’ll need a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter.

3 large tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


For the shortcakes:

2 cups sifted flour, plus more for dusting

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 teaspoons sugar

8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish

2/3 cup milk

Sour cream, for garnish

For the tomatoes: Plunge them into a pot of boiling water to loosen the skins. Peel, seed and chop, transferring the tomato flesh to a mixing bowl along with the oil, garlic and basil. Stir to combine, then season lightly with salt. Let the mixture sit at room temperature while you make the shortcakes. The yield is 2 1/2 cups.

For the shortcakes: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Use an ungreased baking sheet, or line the sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cream of tartar and sugar in a separate mixing bowl. Add the butter; use your clean fingers or a pastry cutter to quickly work it in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cheese and basil, then pour in the milk; stir with a fork to form a wet dough.

Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer the dough there; knead gently, then pat or roll out to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Cut out 12 to 16 rounds of dough, rerolling scraps as needed; place them on the baking sheet, spaced at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Let the shortcakes cool slightly, then cut them in half horizontally. Place two bottom halves on each plate. Spoon some tomato mixture on top of each one. Top with the shortcake tops, then spoon more of the tomato mixture on top. Garnish with sour cream and a small basil leaf. Serve warm.

Per serving (based on 8): 330 calories, 7 g protein, 28 g carb., 21 g fat, 10 g sat. fat, 40 mg chol., 290 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugar

Sweet tomato jam with honey and vanilla

Time: About 2 hours

Makes 3 half-pint jars

Recipe from The New York Times

3 pounds firm ripe tomatoes, cored and diced (about 8 cups)

1 cup honey

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 vanilla bean pods, split

Pinch fine sea salt

If you plan to can the jam, prepare the jars according to instructions on Page 6D.

In a large nonreactive pot, combine ingredients, adding the vanilla seeds and pods to the pot. Simmer over medium low heat until the mixture is very thick and jammy, about 90 minutes. Discard vanilla pods.

If canning, spoon into hot sterilized jars and process as directed. Otherwise, let jam cool, then store in refrigerator or freezer.

Tomato tartes tatin

Visually appealing and a bit of a surprise, tastewise, these tarts could be served as a sweet appetizer as well. For dessert, the tart goes well with vanilla ice cream or tomato sorbet.

You'll need six 4-inch tart pans or molds for this recipe.

6 small yellow tomatoes, such as oversize cherry tomatoes or Sungold tomatoes

6 small red tomatoes, such as oversize cherry tomatoes

Flour, for dusting

1 pound frozen puff pastry, such as Dufours brand, slightly thawed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 to 2 basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready six 4-inch round nonstick tart pans. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Boil water and pour it into a medium mixing bowl. Use a sharp knife to make a small "X" in the bottom of each tomato and place the tomatoes in the hot water for 15 to 20 seconds. Drain the water and peel the tomatoes; cut them crosswise into 1/8-inch slices. Set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of 3/16 inch. Use a 4-inch round cutter (the rim of a large coffee cup will do) or one of the tart pans, inverted, to cut the dough into 6 disks (reserve any scraps for another use). Place the disks on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

When ready to bake, brush the top and sides of each disk lightly with the extra-virgin olive oil and use a fork to prick the top of the disk several times. Use the 1 tablespoon of olive oil to brush the insides of all six tart pans, then sprinkle an even, thin layer of brown sugar (about 1 tablespoon each) in the bottoms of the pans. Place the tomato slices in each pan, overlapping them and alternating the red and yellow colors (about 12 slices per pan), then sprinkle the remaining sugar on the tomatoes. Place the puff pastry disks on the tomatoes, pressing gently. Place the 6 pans on the baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pastry is light brown.

Transfer to the stovetop to rest for a few minutes before inverting each tarte tatin onto the center of an individual plate, using a spoon to tap on the bottom of the pan if necessary to release the tart. Drizzle some olive oil around the plate. If desired, roll the basil leaf or leaves into a tight cylinder and slice into very thin strips (chiffonade); sprinkle on the plate as garnish. Serve warm.

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