The Tomato Dishes Our Editors Wait For All Year Long

Starting a campaign to rebrand summertime as tomato season.

Marinated Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad

As a social media editor, I get excited for different times of the year and what they mean for the wealth of fun content I’ll get to share with our audience. The holidays are full of stunningly trimmed trees and overflowing cookie tins. Fall brings foliage photos that look like paintings and all the cozy apple desserts. Spring brightens your feed with pastel-hued tablescapes and new blooms. But summer, especially summer in the South, is all about one thing—the fresh bounty of produce. Fruit for cobblers, corn on the cob, squash for days, and herbs aplenty fill our bags at the farmers’ market. But there’s only one queen bee of summer crops, the tomato. A rainbow of thick, fresh tomatoes abound at weekend markets and roadside stands, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to enjoying them. A tried-and-true method? The tomato sandwich.  “Just tomato, mayo, salt, and pepper, on white bread,” is how author and Editor at Large Rick Bragg prepares his (don’t suggest he change that). If you do prefer to fancy your tomato haul up, we have plenty of recipes for you to try before fall. Here, I asked the Southern Living editors which tomato dishes make them long for summer. From famous local offerings in our hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, to the recipes they’re clamoring to make at home, these are the dishes that showcase the star of summertime best. 

01 of 12

Tomato, Cucumber, and Onion Salad

Marinated Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad

Editorial Producer Ivy Odom can’t wait to make this fresh salad each season. The hardest thing about this simple salad is the prep time spent chopping. After that, all you need is a big bowl and a spoon to stir everything together! Since it tastes best after chilling overnight or for a full 24 hours, this colorful and healthy salad is a great make-ahead option for summer holidays and gatherings. It’s imperative to use the freshest ingredients as possible for this bright dish to shine. 

Recipe: Marinated Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad 

02 of 12

Hot and Hot Fish Club’s Tomato Salad

Hot and Hot Fish Club's Tomato Salad


Each year, the arrival of Hot and Hot Fish Club’s famous Tomato Salad is like a mini holiday in Birmingham, Alabama. Business Manager Nellah McGough is sure to snag a reservation to get her fill of the stacked beauty. The stars of the show are thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, but they’re complemented by other spoils of the season like fresh field peas, okra, and herbs. Of course, a bit of bacon doesn’t hurt the situation, either. 

03 of 12

Tomato Pie

Southern Living Heirloom Tomato Pie baked and ready to serve, topped with fresh herbs

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Assistant Homes Editor Cameron Beall says a tomato pie is the first thing she whips up in the kitchen (or orders at a restaurant) come tomato season. This recipe has an extra (but crucial) step: Our Test Kitchen recommends roasting the tomatoes first. “Not only does this simple step keep the filling from being too wet, but it also caramelizes the tomatoes, intensifying their flavor,” according to the pros. 

Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Pie

04 of 12

Brick & Tin's Tomato Panini

Brick & Tin's Tomato Panini


Senior Homes and Features Editor Betsy Cribb waits as patiently as she possibly can for this signature Brick & Tin sandwich’s debut every summer. “Heirloom tomatoes grown in Alabama, basil pesto, and homemade aioli on fresh bread…My mouth is watering just thinking about it!” she says. 

05 of 12

Ripe Off The Vine

Cherokee Purple
Photo: Ralph Anderson,

When I polled the Southern Living editorial team about their favorite tomato dishes, Editorial Producer Ivy Odom said: “Does a still warm-from-the-sun straight off the vine tomato with flaky salt count? Because I cry when I get to eat my first ripe one every year.” I’m guessing most Southerners would agree: Sometimes that’s all you need for a gorgeous tomato “dish.”

06 of 12

Southern Tomato Sandwich

tomato sandwich halves stacked on top of one another
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

The classic. Period. Come summertime, the 'mater sandwich is on everyone's list. Southern Living contributor Rick Bragg says the recipe is actually very simple: squishy white brand, salt and pepper, generous smears of mayo, and slices of juicy tomatoes. Trust us, the results are worth every bite.

Recipe: Southern Tomato Sandwich

07 of 12

Helen's Tomato Pie

Helen's Tomato Pie


Senior Digital News Editor Rebecca Baer heads to one of downtown Birmingham’s most popular restaurants, Helen, each summer to order their beloved Tomato Pie. Chef Rob McDaniel is an expert at taking nostalgic Southern dishes and elevating them onto impressive new pedestals. Though his Tomato Pie is packaged beautifully (with homemade pimento cheese on top to boot), the taste is just as down-home as you remember.

08 of 12


Southern Living Best Ever Succotash in the pan ready to serve

Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

One thing you can be sure of when the temps rise: Assistant Homes Editor Cameron Beall is going to be ordering fresh succotash at a restaurant or making it at home herself. Like a party where all the season’s finest veggies get together (with bacon as a plus-one), succotash is Southern side dish royalty. Not to be arrogant, but our Best-Ever Succotash Recipe lives up to its name, and all of the five-star reviewers seem to agree with us. 

Recipe: Best-Ever Succotash

09 of 12

Old-Fashioned Tomato Pie

old-fashioned tomato pie on teal background
Iain Bagwell

Over the years we have published many variations of the tomato pie, and they are all delicious. This old-fashioned recipe is a Test Kitchen and staff favorite.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Tomato Pie

10 of 12

Classic Southern BLT

Southern BLT
Monica Farber/Southern Living

Sometimes you just want to add a little something extra to that go-to tomato sandwich. The answer: Our Classic BLT, Truth is, bacon really does make everything better, and this version of our tomato sandwich is really simple and delicious.

Recipe: Classic Southern BLT

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Heirloom Tomato-Cracker Salad

Heirloom Tomato-Cracker Salad
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Ali Ramee; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

As temperatures rise, sometimes all we want is a cool and refreshing salad that stars the best produce of the season. Enter this recipe, which features heirloom gems, and that the Test Kitchen called "heavenly."

Recipe: Heirloom Tomato-Cracker Salad

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Grilled Corn-and-Salmon Salad with Tomatoes

Grilled Corn-and-Salmon Salad with Tomatoes
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

Our editors are always looking for new ways to serve the fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes, and this recipe brings together a few other favorites: corn and salmon. It's a staff go-to because it's also quick and easy to pull together when company is coming.

Recipe: Grilled Corn-and-Salmon Salad with Tomatoes

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