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Gazpacho, lasagna and other great ideas for tomatoes, now in season

Gazpacho, lasagna and other great ideas for tomatoes, now in season
A variety of heirloom tomatoes spotted at the Santa Monica farmers market on June 13. (Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times)

What's in season: It’s officially tomato season, and many market stalls are awash in vibrant shades of color ranging from red to yellow, even purple. Varieties of heirloom and other tomatoes are available and will be in season throughout summer and into early fall. Although the quality of supermarket tomatoes continues to improve, it's still hard to beat the flavor offered by local farmers at various stands, with colorful fruit in all shapes and sizes, and names such as Celebrity, Early Girl, Mountain Magic and Sun Gold, a vibrant orange-yellow cherry tomato.

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What to cook: One of the easiest — and maybe the most satisfying — ways to enjoy a tomato is simply sliced into wedges and sprinkled with good salt and not a little olive oil. Try tossing tomatoes — depending on the type and size — into salads or baking them into savory galettes. Purée them as part of a gazpacho or tomato soup, or simmer the fruit slowly to bring out its natural sweetness in a classic marinara sauce. If you're looking to build a simple sandwich, try sliced tomatoes between pieces of good bread and some mayonnaise. And don’t forget a refreshing Bloody Mary. For more ideas, check with the farmer for flavor characteristics and how best to use the tomatoes.

What's on the horizon: Melons are just beginning to show up, and more varieties of eggplant are available now.

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