Seasonal Eating: 6 Ideas for Summer Tomatoes
Have you grown tomatoes this year? I have never had such an abundant season of these luscious ruby and sunshine hued fruits. I always plant a variety of large, medium and cherry tomatoes, but this year some tomato seeds survived the winter in my soil and those grew, too.
I am flush with tomatoes right now, and needed some ideas for using them up.
There is nothing like a fresh-picked tomato. The smell in your garden is intoxicating. Try eating one off the vine, and you may never go back to store-bought again; the taste is truly night and day. If you don't grow tomatoes, please go to the farmers market and buy some today. You will be so glad you did.
The most important reason to eat tomatoes? The nutrient content is outstanding. You know my philosophy: Our food should not only taste great, but provide us with the most bang for its buck, and tomatoes are no exception. Not only do they have 22 calories per tomato, they are full of vitamin A and C (about 25% of what you need for the day). Most important, tomatoes contain enormous amounts of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant thought to have significant impact on bone health and heart health, along with anti-cancer benefits.
How I Use Tomatoes
Right now, as I have about 50 tomatoes sitting on my counter (and more coming!) I need to get busy. And creative. Did I mention simple? It is summer after all.
Here are some ways I used them in the last couple of days:
- 1. I made a beautiful and unique salad. I took thick slices of my giant tomatoes and brushed with fresh pesto, then topped with thin slices of mozzarella..
- 2. Gazpacho. See my favorite recipe here.
- 3. The other night, I made a quick fresh tomato sauce. It goes so fast that it's not even worth typing up the recipe: I simply chopped an onion, minced a few cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped a dozen medium tomatoes. I sautéed the onion and garlic in olive oil, salt and pepper, added the tomatoes, let simmer for 30 minutes, then added a big bunch of arugula and chopped basil from my garden. Stupendous!
- 4. Fresh salsa. One of my sons has caught the cooking bug (makes my heart sing!), and he whipped me up a fresh salsa, all by himself. Simple: fresh tomatoes, a hot pepper if you choose (have those growing in my garden too), chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. No problem.
- 5. I add them into frittatas. While you are sautéing the onions for your frittata, add some sliced baby tomatoes in there. Let the liquid evaporate. Proceed with your frittata.
- 6. Last night, I grilled thick slices from two giant tomatoes I had. I sliced them about 1/2" thick, brushed them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and through straight on the grill. They won't fall apart if you slice them thick enough.
How do you use tomatoes in the summer? Please share in the comments below!
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Heather Carey, M.S.