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Brooklyn's Frankies Whip Up Tomatoes For All Meals

There is nothing like a summer tomato -- red and plump and plucked right off the vine so the juices inside are still slightly warm from the sun.

But by the second week of August, even the most ardent tomato aficionados find that they have too much of a good thing -- if they are growing tomatoes in the yard or if they can't resist the urge to fill up their baskets when they head to the farmers market.

So what do you do with the tower of summer tomatoes stacked on your kitchen counter or ripening on your windowsill?

Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo, who own a popular Brooklyn restaurant called Frankies Spuntino, have some tips for incorporating tomatoes into everything from breakfast to dessert. Along with Peter Meehan, they have just published a new cookbook, The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion and Cooking Manual.

"After seeing the best of the best around the world, we realized that what we had growing up -- simple, southern Italian, even peasant food, was amazing," Castronovo tells NPR's Michele Norris. "It had everything: The nutrition, the flavor, the freshness, the simplicity, the love, it was all in there. And we took the lessons that we learned and the experience that we had and we applied it to Grandma's food."

The book is a guide for people to get that flavor, Falcinelli says. The idea is "not to be like the gimmicky Italian red sauce thing, like 'Hey, I'm going to cook some Italian today.' These are really serious recipes that work," he says. "We serve thousands of people a week that love the food, that come back for it, and the best thing about the book is you can re-create it at home and you can realize how good it is and how inexpensive it is at home."

To enjoy tomatoes at breakfast, Falcinelli suggests topping them with a little bit of sugar, honey and a sprinkle of cracked pepper, so "it doesn't feel like you're eating something savory in the wrong time period." For lunch, Castronovo suggests the tomato and avocado salad -- especially because it's easy. "We're all about easy, practical, utilitarian," he says. Later in the day, you could try a spaghetti with crabs or meatballs with tomato sauce. And then, for dessert, the tomato granite.

At the end of August, Falcinelli and Castronovo suggest canning or jarring the tomatoes so you can have them in the winter.

"They taste good all year long," Castronovo says. "It's like a little reminder of what that day was like in August when it was hot -- how beautiful it was."

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NPR Staff