Sun-kissed and Blushing: Tomatoes

SUN-KISSED TOMATOES

Have you ever experienced a tomato, picked from the vine, warm from the sun, sweet, and juicy? Produce grown to perfect ripeness is what eating seasonally is all about. Seasonal veg are full of flavor with noticeably more deliciousness than their prematurely picked counterparts.

FULL OF FLAVOR = FULL OF NUTRIENTS

Ripe seasonal veggies have something else to offer too: nutrients. Left on the vine until maturity, fruits and vegetables have the opportunity to fully develop their nutritional benefits. Tomatoes have loads of Vitamin C and K as well as lycopene, an antioxidant. The darker red the tomato, the more lycopene it contains. Wonderfully, olive oil eaten with tomatoes increases the body’s absorption of lycopene. Isn’t that perfect?!

“Store” tomatoes are picked hard and green in preparation for shipping and storage. They sit in a warehouse being gassed with ethylene to “ripen” while they await their trip to the grocery store. The sun has not had the opportunity to work its magic and develop nutrients fully.

TOMATOES & THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS

Tomatoes are a part of the nightshade family along with eggplant, potatoes, peppers, tomatillos, and tobacco -- the black sheep of the family. Some are sensitive to this family know as nightshades as they contain alkaloids that can cause joint pain, gout, digestive issues and more.

Think about tobacco being from this family, or getting a stomach ache from a green potato. Following seasonal eating helps to avoid over consumption of any particular food group or “family” giving you a long-term, well-rounded, healthy diet.

GET TOMATOES WHILE THEY'RE HOT... OR AT LEAST WARM OFF THE VINE!

Summer is the time to buy local tomatoes warm off the vine. What goes with tomatoes while the sun is hot? Other veggies in season of course!

What grows together goes together. Serve tomatoes with other summer vegetables that need minimal cooking such as corn, eggplant, peppers and summer squash.

DON'T FORGET TO:

  • Shop at your farmer’s market for something special like tomatoes or any veg that really benefits from being just picked
  • If you can’t get to the Farmer’s market, keep store-bought tomatoes in a closed paper bag in a single layer, stem side down to ripen and avoid fruit flies
  • Never refrigerate tomatoes
     

HAVE YOU EVER PEELED A TOMATO?

Peeling tomatoes (especially the store-bought variety) is a quick step that gives them a delicate texture. It also avoids the tomato skin "quills" that you see in cooked tomato dishes.

  • Cut a gentle X just through the skin of the tomato "bottom"
  • Drop into boiling water until the X begins to pull away from the flesh (10-20 sec.)
  • Immediately, drop the tomatoes into cold water and ice to stop the cooking
  • Now, using a sharp paring knife, peel away the skin

TRY MY TOMATO, CAPER & PARSLEY SALAD (Serves 4)

6-8 small red tomatoes or 4-6 large and a variety of colors if possible, peeled
1/2 Tbls. Dijon mustard
1 Tbls. red wine vinegar
3 Tbls. good olive oil
4-6 Tbls. drained capers, coarsely chopped
4-6 Tbls. chopped parsley salt and pepper to taste

*To make the salad: *

Blend the vinegar and mustard in a large bowl using a fork. Slowly add the oil drizzling and whisking to blend. Stir in the parsley and capers then gently fold in the tomatoes. Season to taste. Taste before seasoning; capers are salty.

This is best at room temperature or cool. It can be made ahead and chilled but pull it out of the fridge an hour or so before serving. Play with the recipe. I like to:

  • Mix different types, colors and sizes of tomatoes
  • Add chopped fresh tarragon, chives or basil
  • Serve the salad over arugula
  • Serve as a "sauce" with grilled meat or fish
  • Add grilled corn or diced onion
  • Serve with thinly sliced fresh Mozzarella or Burrata and some grilled bread drizzled with EVOO. Yum.
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