Delicious and Nutritious…right off the vineWritten by admin on August 4th, 2009
Tomatoes are here! Farmers’ Markets are starting to have locally grown tomatoes. Bright red, shiny and firm these were not picked green and stuck on a rail car for two weeks. These beauties are sweet and red BEFORE they are picked. The formation of flavor and nutrition is vastly enhanced when the fruits or vegetables are allowed to ripen on the vine, and tomatoes are a great example of this.
There are many different varieties of tomatoes, each grown with specific uses in mind. There are Heirloom varieties that have been rediscovered for their unique qualities and Romas which make a great sauce; small cherry and grape tomatoes for salads or huge Beefsteak to top your burger.
Like peppers, with which tomatoes are often combined in dishes, tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A and C; and like red peppers, tomatoes are also a terrific source of lycopene. Lycopene has been extensively studied and continues to exhibit protective properties against a wide variety of cancers. More recent studies have shown it to have benefits to your heart health as well. An interesting note, while organically grown fruits and vegetable tend to be more nutritious than their more conventionally grown counterparts, lycopene levels in organic tomatoes can be 300% higher than those of non-organic. So while any tomatoes you find grown locally will be tastier and more nutritious than the trucked in variety, to get the maximum, look for those grown organically.
Tomatoes are delicious eaten raw or added to a salad. Cooked down, they are the basis of pasta sauce and a main ingredient of Italian dishes. A simple salad we enjoy is to dice a couple firm fresh tomatoes, add a cup of chopped basil and mix in 3/4 cup of diced Mozzarella cheese. Drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil and you have a fast and healthful meal.
Stop by your local farmers’ market and see what varieties they have today.
Editor’s note: even though our cool nights have slowed the ripening of tomatoes, the taste of locally grown, vine ripened tomatoes cannot be beat. And to make that salad especially delicious, try some goat cheese feta or other great cheeses sold at farmers’ markets as well.