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Put Tomatoes on Your Ice Cream

It’s the perfect, unexpected treat for the last days of the summer

cartons of sungold tomatoes Shutterstock

This post originally appeared in the August 29, 2022 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.

During a heatwave, my diet relies heavily on tomatoes. It’s peak season for nightshades, and the produce aisle is teeming with everything from beefy heirlooms to dapper cherries. In my mind, there is one variety that reigns supreme and that of course is the Sungold, as cheery and precious as its name implies.

I hoard them by the pint like there’s no tomorrow. But after rotating between light salads, gentle sauces, and gingerly popping them into my mouth like candy, I wanted something else. The opportune moment came when I tried the olive oil ice cream from Bad Habit, a Brooklyn ice cream company that makes some of the most alluringly dense stuff out there. It tasted so much like the thing it purported to be that it screamed for one thing, and one thing only — fresh tomato.

After scooping some ice cream into a bowl, I dropped in a few Sungolds, on the verge of bursting, and what stray leaves were left from my withering basil plant. It was the perfect complement to the olive oil’s grassy salinity, the Sungolds’ slightly sweet acidity balancing the velvety fat of the frozen dairy.

I experimented with more ice cream flavors: It’s the perfect treat for the last days of the summer Van Leeuwen’s blueberry shortcake, with a sweet-cream base, also did the trick, as did the sour cream canned-peaches flavor from Morgenstern’s.

It’s not actually as strange as it might sound at first. The case has already been made for unorthodox toppings like bacon and sea salt. Dipping french fries into a Frosty is practically a rite of passage. Savory ice cream bases — wasabi, avocado, pickle, even mac and cheese — are polarizing but generally accepted as part of the flavor landscape today. Tomatoes as a topping are practically a foregone conclusion.

If you can’t find Sungolds, then your basic cherry tomato or an orangey heirloom would suffice. And if you are an enterprising human being with time to spare, I suppose you could cook tomatoes down into a jam first, which I’d wager would go over swimmingly. But I don’t have time to spare. Tomatoes on ice cream is a fleeting treat for these final days of summer.

Elissa Suh is a writer and editor based in New York. She publishes the Moviepudding newsletter, dedicated to exploring the intersections of food and film.