Stewed tomatoes is one dish I've never had any place but at home, cooked by my mother.
I've never seen them on a menu anywhere, have you? Too bad, too, as they are truly delicious and so easy to make.
How to Make Stewed Tomatoes
All you do is cook peeled, chopped tomatoes on the stovetop with some butter, a little sugar, salt and pepper, and herbs (I like to use basil) until the tomatoes completely fall apart and the flavors have had a chance to meld. Top the hot stewed tomatoes with a few crunchy homemade croutons, and you have a beautiful tomato side dish.
Don't Skip the Sugar
Here's a tip: do not leave out the butter or sugar! While you can reduce the sugar a bit if you want, some sugar is needed to balance the acidity of the tomatoes—unless you are using unusually sweet tomatoes. Butter is absolutely necessary for the taste of this dish.
This batch of stewed tomatoes was made with fresh heirloom tomatoes from the market. The better quality tomato you start with, the better the result will be. That said, during most of the year when farm fresh juicy tomatoes are not available we will make stewed tomatoes with good quality canned tomatoes.
What to Serve With Stewed Tomatoes
You can serve stewed tomatoes as a side to roast chicken, baked fish, or as a base for poached eggs as in shakshuka. You can serve it alongside or tossed with pasta, or with white beans. One reader mentioned they love serving it with mac and cheese.
Our favorite dish to serve alongside stewed tomatoes? Tuna Macaroni Salad. There's something about the buttery, warm stewed tomatoes that is the perfect balance for cool fresh tuna salad.
The Best Tomatoes for Stewed Tomatoes
The best tomatoes for this recipe are fresh, in-season tomatoes that have tons of flavor. Slicing tomatoes like beefsteak, or plum tomatoes like Roma or San Marzano, work well in stewed tomatoes. Because you have to peel the tomatoes, cherry or grape tomatoes aren't ideal for this recipe. You'll need a lot of them, and that's a lot of peeling.
Whole peeled canned tomatoes also work in this recipe. Do not use diced tomatoes. They keep their shape and will not break down.
How to Peel Fresh Tomatoes
Blanching tomatoes first makes it easy to remove the skins. To blanch tomatoes, score their ends and place them in boiling water for one minute. Remove and allow to cool until you can handle them. Once they are cool to the touch the skins will slide off easily.
Can You Freeze Stewed Tomatoes?
Freezing stewed tomatoes is a great way to easily preserve summer's bounty. Store in a freezer safe container or zip top bag for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator, and reheat over medium heat until heated through.
What to Serve With Homemade Stewed Tomatoes
- Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
- Liver and Onions
- Fried Catfish
- Baked Cod With Ritz Cracker Topping
- Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Stewed Tomatoes With Butter Toasted Croutons
This recipe uses unsalted butter. If using salted butter, reduce the salt and garlic salt in the recipe.
The sugar balances the acidity of the tomatoes. Use less or more to taste.
- 2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped (about 3 cups), or 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 6 basil leaves, chopped
- 2 or 3 slices crusty French or Italian bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Garlic salt
Cook the tomatoes with butter, sugar, and seasonings:
Put peeled, chopped tomatoes, butter, sugar, salt and pepper into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked, soft, and the flavors have blended.
Add chopped basil and add more butter, sugar, salt and pepper if needed for balance.
Make the croutons while the tomatoes simmer:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small frying pan on medium heat. Add the bread cubes, and arrange in a single layer on the pan. Let gently cook on medium heat so that the bread dries out and gets slightly toasted. Turn pieces over to toast other sides.
Cook for about 10 minutes or until the croutons are crunchy dry, and slightly toasted. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Remove from heat.
Serve stewed tomatoes with a few croutons on top of each individual serving, and the rest of the croutons available in a small bowl to add as desired.