Ripe heirloom tomatoes in the heart of the season make Johanna Ware swoon. "There couldn't be anything I love more," says the chef of Smallwares, in Portland, Oregon. "They're sweet and juicy, and I almost cry when their season is over."

It doesn't take much to make the most out of garden-fresh tomatoes: A little salt and fresh ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil is one of the simplest routes to tomato nirvana. Serving up slices warmed on the grill, as Ware does here, intensifies their sweetness and acidity and adds an alluring touch of smoke to the mix. What makes this simple grilled dish truly brilliant, though, is a ranch-style dressing Ware makes from tofu.

"I'm from the Midwest, and I have a real love for ranch dressing. Growing up, it was always a guilty pleasure of mine." Pureeing the tofu with fresh chives, lemon juice, and garlic makes a protein-packed ranch stand-in that works wonderfully as a dip on its own. Here it makes a delectably tangy sauce for grilled beef and tomatoes. Try Ware's original version at Smallwares in Portland this month.

There's no need to pull out the food processor to make the small amount of breadcrumbs for this recipe. Just tear bread by hand into very small pieces; the rustic texture is perfect.

4 ounces firm tofu, drained2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided1½ tablespoons water2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided1 garlic clove4½ tablespoons olive oil, divided4 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaksCooking spray3 large heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce½ teaspoon sugar1 medium shallot, thinly sliced¼ cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs1 teaspoon chile oil

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Combine tofu, 1 tablespoon chives, 1½ tablespoons water, juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and garlic in a blender; blend until smooth. With blender running, drizzle in 1½ tablespoons oil.

3. Sprinkle steaks with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Place steaks on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Coat tomato slices with cooking spray. Place tomato slices on grill; grill 2 minutes on each side. Combine remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add tomato and shallot to bowl; toss gently to coat.

4. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs to pan; cook 3 minutes or until golden and toasted, stirring occasionally. Drizzle chile oil over crumbs; toss to coat.

5. Spread 2 tablespoons tofu puree in a circle on each of 4 plates. Divide tomato slices among plates. Cut steaks across the grain into thin slices; arrange slices on top of tomatoes. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon toasted breadcrumb mixture and ¾ teaspoon chives.

SERVES 4CALORIES 356; FAT 24g (sat 4.7g, mono 13.7g, poly 2.7g); PROTEIN 26g; CARB 10g; FIBER 2g; CHOL 59mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 561mg; CALC 93mg