Make the Most of Fresh Tomato Season

This week’s guide includes our top-rated tools for preparing and eating this sweet seasonal ingredient.

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in New Jersey. Aside from its beautiful beaches and busy roads, the state is known for producing several delicious crops, including peaches, corn, blueberries, and my personal favorite—tomatoes. In the Northeast between July and September, tomatoes are at their peak, so during this time I eat them as often as I can. However, no matter where your tomatoes are grown, they are a perfect addition to any summertime meal. Eat them in a Simple Tomato Salad or include them in this recipe for Corn Ricotta Toast with Pickled Corn and Cherry Tomatoes. From our favorite knife for cutting tomatoes to the best skillet for quickly sautéing them, we have everything you need for preparing this seasonal ingredient.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

Our favorite knife sliced every food with ease, thanks to a stiff, ultrasharp blade featuring 5 inches of scalloped and pointed serrations, which provided just enough bite to slice into food securely and give it a leg up over the second-place finisher. A narrow tip allowed us to do detail work, and a tall heel ensured that our knuckles never dragged against the cutting board when we cut. Just one teensy gripe: The handle could be a touch longer and wider—testers with larger hands said their hands cramped occasionally.  More on this test

This thin, lightweight plastic model was easy to hold and lift but was also stable on the counter thanks to its grippy rubber sides. It’s dishwasher-safe, and while it got a bit scratched by the end of testing, it was otherwise intact, resisting warping, cracking, or staining and retaining no odors. Testers liked cutting on its textured plastic surface and appreciated that one of its sides had a small trench for collecting juices from roasts or wet foods.

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Our old favorite wins again: Its smooth, medium-hard, reversible teak surface provided plenty of room to work, was a pleasure to cut on, and required the least maintenance. It was light enough to lift comfortably (especially since it had finger grips on the sides) but heavy enough to be stable for most tasks, though a few users noted that it wobbled occasionally. It picked up some knife scars but was otherwise highly durable, resisting cracking, warping, and staining, thanks to naturally oily resins that helped condition the board. And it's a stunner: Sleek, elegant, and richly colored, it was, as one tester noted, “less like a Toyota and more like a Corvette.” One caveat: Because teak contains microscopic bits of silica, it can wear down blades faster than other types of wood. But in our opinion, this fact doesn't detract from this board's stellar performance.

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Our longtime winner excelled, with uniform, steady heating and good visibility inside the saucepan to monitor browning. Its cup-shaped stay-cool handle was easy to grip, and a helper handle provided another grabbing point when the pan was full. Even after brutal whacking on concrete, this model emerged with only tiny dents inside and one slight dent on the bottom, and it still sat flat on the counter.

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This saucepan has the same tri-ply fully-clad construction as our top-rated All-Clad pan, with two layers of stainless steel sandwiched around a layer of aluminum. It performed almost as well, but ran a little fast and hot, so onions browned slightly around the perimeter of the pan. The cooking surface is relatively narrow. The moderately heavy frame was easy to lift and scrape food from, but its handle gets hot during extended cooking. Its shiny interior dulled after cleaning up pilaf, and it suffered more damage in our abuse testing than higher-ranked models.

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Our previous favorite still excelled with power; precision; and a compact, streamlined design that takes up less space than most food processors, despite having one of the largest capacities, all at a moderate price. Its smooth, simple bowl and blade design are easy to handle, monitor during use, and clean. Its unusual feed tube placement allows for increased bowl visibility. It comes with just three blades for chopping, shredding, and slicing that can all be stored inside the bowl, with no accessories box to deal with. However, since we last tested it, the chopping blade was redesigned and leaves slightly bigger gaps between it and the bottom and side of the bowl, so it couldn’t effectively incorporate egg yolks into single-batch mayonnaise. We didn’t discover any other adverse effects from these slightly bigger gaps, which were still narrower than those of lower-ranked models. It did chop mirepoix uniformly and was one of only two models to give us perfectly green-colored yogurt in our dye test. Although it lacks a mini bowl for very small jobs, a double batch of mayonnaise worked well.

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The cooking surface was slick, both when new and after extensive use, and food never stuck. It’s one of the lightest models we tested, so it was easy to lift and maneuver, but it was also sturdy and resisted denting. All of our testers liked its wide, comfortable handle. Like every other model, its surface became scratched when we used a knife as if to cut a frittata, but it otherwise held up well.

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This pan has an excellent, durable nonstick surface that released everything we cooked in it with ease. The shape is ideal, with a broad cooking surface and gently flared sides that allowed us to move food around without spilling and easily flip eggs, steaks, and fish fillets. The simple brushed-metal handle stayed cool and was comfortable to hold, whether we were tossing cauliflower florets or tilting the pan to turn out a frittata. The pan scratched and dented lightly in our abuse tests, but we deemed it acceptable.
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This large stainless-steel pot had comfortable, grippy handles and a clear lid that allowed users to effortlessly monitor the pot’s contents. Its lid had a knob with a built-in dial that supposedly reads when the water is boiling and thus ready for processing, but we found it unreliable. More important, both the pot and the rack are made from stainless steel and emerged from our testing looking almost brand-new.

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This jar opener features a game-changing innovation: a spring-loaded hinge that pops the grabbers open when the handles are released. This made releasing jars a smooth, one-handed task by eliminating the need for the user to pry the grabbers back open. It had broad, molded handles that were more comfortable and secure than the classic rubber-coated rods. Its wide, plastic jar grips increased the contact between the lifter and the jar, giving it stronger, more confident hold. It also didn’t rust.

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