Fire-Charred Tomatoes ♥ a Recipe from the Seven Fires Cookbook

Fire-Charred Tomatoes, another easy way to love on summer tomatoes ♥, just good tomatoes, salt and heat. Vegan. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. Low Carb.
So so simple! And so so more than the sum of its parts! Fire-Charred Tomatoes are no more than juicy summer tomatoes cooked on a very hot fire until charred, creating a smoky, luscious bite of summer. The recipe comes from the inspiring cookbook called "Seven Fires".

Fresh & Seasonal. A Summer Classic. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly.

Cooking from the Seven Fires Cookbook

Way back, I lucked into spending a day with author and writer Peter Kaminsky just back from Argentina where he'd been cooking over fire with Argentinian chef Francis Mallman. A book was in the works and Peter was stoked – smoked?! – with the idea of reducing cooking to no more than fire and food.

Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way is that book and truly, it's a treasure. Why?

FOR SERIOUS OUTDOOR COOKS For anyone who likes to grill, who's serious about barbecue, who cooks outdoors, Seven Fires will be a real inspiration.
WITHOUT FORGETTING THOSE WHO COOK INSIDE But for others, too, the ingredient lists in Seven Fires are short and accessible, the food spare and simple.
MEAT + VEGETABLES There's plenty of meat in the cookbook but the vegetable recipes have really captured my imagination. I can see cooking from this book – directly from its recipes but also on my own, just from its inspiration – for a long time.
A NEW? OLD? WAY TO COOK Seven Fires opens up an entirely new way to cook – or perhaps, better said, it's an entirely OLD way to cook but made contemporary.

What Are the Seven Fires?

The "seven fires" are the parilla (a grill grate set over hot coals); the chapa (flat cast iron griddle set over fire)' an infernillo (a two-story fire with a cooking surface in between); a horno de barro (wood-fired oven); a rescoldo (covering food with embers); asado (a vertical spit for cooking whole animals); and caldero (iron kettle).

Believe it or not, we used the asado to cook whole bison over wood. Has anyone else cooked 419 pounds of meat, whole, over fire? In a place without water or electricity? Three years running? Really, truly, we have and it was Francis Mallman who started all that craziness! More on that here with my recipe for how to cook a whole buffalo, LOL, Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix.

Fire-Charred Tomatoes Are Wayyy Simpler, I Promise

We use the charring technique on different foods over an open wood fire, on the stovetop and on the grill with a hickory log for smoke. But the "recipe" we make summer after summer is the Fire-Charred Tomato. We loooove that bit of burn on the tomatoes, dark, crusty, smoky. Here's how the chef Francis Mallman puts it:

"I adore dissonance in food – two tastes fighting each other. It wakes up your palate and surprises you. As you'll see in many of the recipes in this book, charring or even burning adds an extra dimension to breads, vegetable, and fruit. The right amount of burning or charring can be delicious and seductive: a burnt tomato, for example, has a dark crust bordering on bitter, while the inside is soft and gentle in texture and taste." ~ Chef Francis Mallman, Seven Fires, page 5

Summer Easy, a special collection of Less Cookin' and More Livin' recipes especially for summer ♥ all summer long.
This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long ever since 2009 at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

Just updated. First published way back in 2009!


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil or better still, a lower-smoke point oil such as sunflower or safflower
4 small- to medium-size perfect summer tomatoes, about 1 pound total
Kosher salt or another good coarse salt

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high until smoky hot, adding a layer of olive oil after a minute or two and letting it heat up almost to the smoke point. Cut the "cap" off each tomato, about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down. Put a layer of salt on a plate, cutting board or another flat surface. Press the tomato, cut-side down, into the salt, adhering the salt to the tomato, not just the surface but slightly into the tomato itself. When the skillet and oil are both super-hot, place the tomatoes, cut-side down, onto the hot surface. DO NOT MOVE THE TOMATOES – and let them cook for exactly 10 minutes, the surface will be dark and crusty, the interiors soft and warm but not mushy. Transfer to serving plates, serve and savor!

WHEN TO SERVE FIRE-CHARRED TOMATOES These are great on a buffet, great on a plate with good steak, great besides bacon 'n' eggs for breakfast. We usually reserve Fire-Charred Tomatoes for the very best of ripe, juicy summer tomatoes but also have good luck with those tomatoes you see in groceries now, very red with the vines still attached, they're very pretty and char quite well.

Don't be tempted to move the tomato once it's on the skillet – otherwise the charred skin won't develop.
There will be smoke so if you've got a good fan, turn it on, or can cook outside (on a grill's side burner, say), do that.

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© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2009, 2019 (repub) & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. AnonymousJune 11, 2009

    That is an interesting way to cook the tomatoes. Thanks for the cookbook recommendaton as well. What heat temperature are you cooking the tomatoes? Medium? Medium-high?

  2. Yum. This recipe is inspiration to got the farmers market to pick up some tomatoes. Can't wait to try this!

  3. That must have been a great day spent with Peter. I love this idea. Thanks for the reminder about turning on the fan!

  4. AnonymousJune 11, 2009

    This looks so great. I have been playing with grilling vegetables for salads and have been reading about grilling tomatoes. This looks sooooo good! Have you ever tried slow roasting them in the oven? I hear that is incredible but have yet to have the patience to try.

  5. Anonymous ~ You're welcome! You want the skillet really really hot, as hot as it takes to create a little smoke before adding the tomatoes. Hope that helps!

    Lynn ~ Indeed! Truth be told, these were hothouse tomatoes so I'm anxious to try the technique with 'real' tomatoes too.

    Susan ~ Peter is a fascinating man, for sure, he made for a wonderful companion.

    DishinandDishes ~ Have I tried slow-roasting tomatoes? Have I ever! See how I roasted 15 batches in a couple of weeks, just to perfect the technique.

  6. We're still at least six weeks away from prime tomato season in RI, so I'm bookmarking this for later in the summer. We have a fire pit and do some cooking on it, so I'll be able to try more than one of these methods.

  7. i love just how many things you can grill. how does everything taste good charred? i can't wait for good grilled!

  8. The tomatoes sound fabulous! I think the cookbook might generate some interest around my house. It seems like a good choice for Boy Scouts or campers who have a special interest in cooking.

  9. This seems really neat! I love the quote about the seductiveness of (purposely) burnt food, it's so true. I'm thinking of margehrita pizza crust.

  10. This sounds really interesting and tasty! Bookmarked!

  11. That looks totally mouth-watering, Alanna. Drooling...LOL

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna