STORE: Never refrigerate tomatoes – it kills the flavor. Keep them at room temperature, lightly wrapped if you prefer. If you want to speed the ripening process, put them in a pierced paper bag with an apple, which emits ethylene gas, a ripening agent.
PREP: Grape tomatoes are best used split in half in salads, so you can still appreciate the burst of flavor from their thick skins.
USE: To make a quick just-back-from-the-market lunch, cut the tomatoes in quarters and put them in a serving bowl with some minced garlic, a little olive oil and just a splash of red wine vinegar. Season until sharp with salt and black pepper and then toss some freshly cooked spaghetti on top. Give it a second to warm through, then stir to combine.
STORE: Carrots can be stored in a plastic bag for up to 10 days, but be sure to store them away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas, which causes them to become bitter.
PREP: Peel older carrots; younger ones need only a light rinsing or scrubbing. Whiteness on a carrot’s skin indicates dehydration: A quick soaking in water should restore its texture and color.
USE: Along with celery and onions, carrots are used to create depth in stocks, marinades, soups, and sauces. They pair well with honey, thyme, cumin, curry, and orange.
STORE: Store whole onions in their mesh bag (or any container that lets air circulate) for up to 2 months in a cool, dark, dry space. Don’t store onions under the sink or near potatoes, because moisture and the gases emitted by potatoes will cause the onions to rot. Refrigerate a cut onion, skin on (it will last a bit longer) and tightly wrapped, for up to 4 days.
PREP: Peel skin and cut onion in half through the root with utility knife. To properly cut an onion, place onion half, cut side down, on cutting board. Holding knife horizontally, make cuts in onion parallel to board, almost to root end. Cut onion vertically into thin slices, holding onion with fingers to keep its shape. Turn onion and cut crosswise to root end. Repeat with remaining onion half.
USE: Out of the onion family, yellow onions have the strongest flavor. They’re pretty overpowering raw, but cooking mellows their flavor nicely.