Without a doubt, one of my favorite things about late summer in New England is the abundance of tomatoes in my garden. While I am usually more of a flower gardener, I like to grow a few tomato plants because there is nothing quite like the taste of a fresh-from-the-vine, warm-from-the-sun tomato. The problem, as my fellow gardeners know, is that when it rains, it pours, and it’s pouring tomatoes right now!
I’ve already picked more than I can count, and since I’m contemplating what to do with them, I thought I’d share a few recipes and reasons to love this fruit (yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit, although the Supreme Court declared them a vegetable in 1893).
Tomatoes are the ultimate Superfood, which means that they exceptionally nutrient-dense and may provide numerous health benefits. They are a rich source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and potassium, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, help reduce your blood pressure and boost your immune system. They’re most famous, however, for their lycopene. Tomatoes are one of the richest dietary sources of this potent antioxidant, which has been correlated with a reduced incidence of cancer (especially prostate, stomach and lung), cardiovascular disease, and macular degeneration. All of this, for less than 30 calories per one cup serving!
Health benefits aside, you can’t beat the tomato for its versatility, and that makes it a super food for anyone who wants to get dinner on the table in a hurry. Unlike most other foods, tomatoes taste great whether they are raw, cooked, sliced, chopped, pureed, or juiced. They can also be canned or frozen for a fresh taste of summer in the middle of winter. Whether you pick your own or stock up at the farmers’ market or grocery store, try a few new recipes before the season is over and enjoy their great taste and many health benefits. Here are two of my favorite summer tomato recipes. Enjoy!
Roasted Tomato Salsa
Roasting the tomatoes with olive oil boosts the absorption of lycopene by your body. This recipe will keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator, or it can be frozen.
Preheat the broiler or grill. Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, chili pepper in a roasting pan, and drizzle/toss with olive oil. Broil or grill 5 to 10 minutes or until the outsides of vegetables are lightly charred. Remove vegetables from the heat, and let cool. Remove and discard any hard tomato cores, jalapeño stems, paper from the garlic, etc. Chop all vegetables to desired consistency. Transfer to a medium bowl, and add cumin, salt, limejuice, and cilantro. Stir well, cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to allow flavors to blend. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
Makes 4-6 servings
Skewer the shrimp and scallops, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill. Coarsely chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions either by hand or in a food processor. Combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop. Before serving gazpacho, top each serving with a few shrimp and scallops.