35 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Tomatoes
Tomatoes! The best part of summer, if you ask me. Certainly the tastiest part. Green, golden, purple, brown, ruby red – I could gobble up every darn tomato that’s put in front of me.
My kids, not so much. They’d rather drop them into their milk. Or feed them to the dog. Or hide them in the house plant. So I’ve had to get creative with how I work these plump and juicy wonders into their diet. Here are my 35 best ways to get kids to eat tomatoes.
- Roast cherry and grape tomatoes until they burst, toss with hot pasta, and top with torn basil and plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Slice a tomato in half and rub the cut side against grilled bread. Top with salt and pepper for a simple summer appetizer.
- Stuff halved Roma tomatoes with your favorite soft cheese or chicken salad, and you’ve got a cute bite-sized snack.
- Turn tomatoes into jam by boiling them with sugar, red pepper flakes and lemon juice. Smeared on biscuits and sandwiches, it’s the jam. Literally.
- Sandwich sliced tomatoes between slices of crusty Italian bread with crispy bacon and creamy peanut butter. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. My dad taught me how to make this sandwich when I was a kid, and I always loved it. Now my kids love it too.
- Grow tomatoes with your kids and eat them right off the vine. There’s nothing like it. And you don’t even need a backyard – tomatoes grow great in pots too!
- Take your kids to the farmer’s market and ask them to pick out the tomatoes they want for dinner. Introduce them to the farmers so they can learn about each variety, color, shape and flavor.
- Play tic-tac-toe with grape tomatoes and carrot coins. Winner gets to eat all the vegetables … with dip.
- Roast tomatoes with garlic, onions, celery and carrots until tender and caramelized. Blend with cream, broth and fresh herbs for homemade tomato soup that’s perfect for some serious grilled cheese dunking.
- Create a dipping buffet for cherry tomatoes. Set out little bowls of ranch dressing, hummus and lemon vinaigrette to hold the kids over until dinner.
- Make homemade ketchup. Roast tomatoes low and slow until they’ve lost all of their moisture. Then blend the dried tomatoes with sugar, vinegar and salt to taste.
- Check out a cookbook on canning and master the art. It’s worth it. There’s nothing like having off-the-vine tomatoes in the pantry come winter.
- Talk to the Italian grandma in your life (be it your nonna or someone else’s) and beg her to teach you here secret recipe for tomato sauce. Then add your spin to create your own secret family recipe.
- Dice up some tomatoes and mix with peppers, garlic and cilantro for homemade salsa. If you’ve got picky eaters with texture issues, pop everything in the blender and pulse the salsa until it’s smooth enough to their liking.
- Cut tomatoes into cubes and toss with big hunks of toasty bread or fried dough, thinly sliced red onions and a simple balsamic vinaigrette for a crowd-pleasing panzanella salad.
- Serve thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes with salt, pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil for a simple salad that’s dynamite with grilled foods.
- Have a tomato toss. Tape a line of disposable cups to your kitchen floor and see who can toss the most cherry tomatoes into them. Winner gets the tomatoes, and everybody else cleans up.
- Bake a savory cobbler! Start with your favorite berry cobbler recipe and substitute tomatoes for the berries. Reduce the amount of sugar and crack some fresh black pepper into the biscuit topping. Serve with eggs for an easy brunch.
- Add a slice of juicy tomato to a grilled cheese sandwich. Add deli meat and some leafy greens, and toast it until it’s gooey, crispy and completely irresistible to your kids.
- Whip up a fresh tomato pizza. Rub pizza dough with olive oil, layer with thinly sliced tomatoes and lots of mozzarella and Parmesan, sprinkle with dried herbs, and bake.
- Fry green tomatoes. Cut them into thick slices, then dredge in flour, run through hot sauce-spiked buttermilk and dip in a cornmeal crust. Pan fry until crispy. Serve as the meat of a sandwich or as an appetizer with remoulade sauce for dipping.
- Toss quartered tomatoes with bowtie pasta, grilled corn, fresh dill and a lemon juice-olive oil dressing. Refrigerate and enjoy all summer long as a cold salad for lunch.
- Layer an all-butter pie dough with fresh tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Whisk together some eggs, cream and milk, and pour over the tomato mixture until the custard is level with the tomatoes. Bake until everything sets for a to-die-for tomato pie. Add a simple salad, and supper’s ready.
- Stack a proper BLT. Choose the juiciest tomatoes, thickest cut of bacon and some super-crisp lettuce. Smear toasted white bread with real mayonnaise and try not to inhale the whole thing in one delicious bite.
- Have the kids thread chicken-tomato skewers for dinner. Then grill the skewers and finish with basil oil before serving.
- Teach your whole family the art of crafting an authentic Chicago hot dog. Tuck an all-beef hot dog into a poppy seed bun and dress it with sliced tomatoes, mustard, sports peppers, onion, bright green relish and a dash of celery salt.
- Use overripe tomatoes for a game of bocce ball. That’s buh-chee ball (“buh” like in “bug”), not bah-chee ball like half your friends say it, so get ready to wow them with your super mom-ness. To play, divvy your family into teams and throw a lemon into the yard. Then start chucking those rotten tomatoes. Whichever team’s tomatoes land closest to the lemon gets out of dish duty.
- Let the kids help make bruschetta. Mix together fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a little fresh basil. Spoon onto tiny pieces of toast and serve it the next time you have people over, letting your kid-chef take all the credit.
- Char tomatoes before throwing them in the blender with chipotle peppers, lime juice and some onions. Use the finished product as enchilada sauce: Dip tortillas in the sauce, fill with shredded chicken and shredded cheese, tightly roll up, place in a roasting pan, and bake until the cheese melts.
- Watch the movie Ratatouille together and then buy the ingredients to make a meal together that’s as good as the movie … minus the rats in the cupboard. No one wants those.
- Pickle tomatoes with your kids! Boil vinegar, sugar and salt with your favorite spices, then pour over the tomatoes and chill. Serve these with burgers, chicken or a simple summer salad, and everyone will rave.
- Decorate giant tomatoes with olive eyes, pepper lips and more. Then invite your kids to put on a play starring their tomato-head characters.
- Make walking tacos. Top small bags of corn chips with homemade chili, shredded cheese, sour cream, and hunks of fresh tomato for added color and nutrition.
- Play hungry, hungry kids. Take turns around the table and see who can catch the most baby tomatoes in his or her mouth. Yes kids, mom just told you to play with your food. Mom win.
- Take a bite out of a tomato. That’s right, eat it just like you would an apple, with a little sprinkle of salt, and let the juices run down your arms. It’s the ultimate summer treat, perfectly messy in every way.
And boom goes mom’s dynamite. Your kids might just thank you later for helping them realize just how delicious a plump, juicy tomato is, however you eat it.