How Chefs Use All of the Tomato

© John Kernick

By Elyse Inamine Posted August 23, 2016

Don’t throw out tomato leaves or skins. There’s a whole world of condiments, salads and more in these humble trimmings.

You’re already spending an arm and a leg for those gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at the farmers’ market, so you might as well make the most of it.

Hold on to the fuzzy leaves, pesky seeds and more because chefs are making delicious things about these overlooked ingredients. Here’s what they’re doing:

Tomato Leaves = Infused Oil

“The tomato’s tomato-ness, if you will, is most pronounced in the leaves,” says Joe Kindred, chef-owner of Kindred in Davidson, North Carolina. “They are not particularly pleasant to eat and, if you cook them, they lose that freshness and intensity.” So Kindred takes the leaves from early tomatoes and combines them with Castelvetrano olive oil. Right now, he’s drizzling the tomato oil on a scallop crudo with summer corn and tinkering with an anise hyssop-infused oil for the future.

Tomato Seeds = Vinaigrette

The classic chopped salad at ToroToro in Washington, DC has an aromatic vinaigrette that gets texture from tomato seeds. Chef Richard Sandoval's Mexican-leaning version of the lunch staple features crunchy chayote, roasted corn and queso fresco.

Tomato Skins = All-Purpose Seasoning

Leave it to Gabriella Hamilton, the chef and owner of Prune in New York City, to find something delicious to make with delicate tomato skins. In her cookbook, Hamilton recommends sprinkling the skins with coarse salt and putting them into the oven for a few hours. The fun part is crushing up the Fruit Roll-Up-like sleeves of concentrated tomato flavor over whatever you want, from avocado toast to light pastas.

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