Featured food: fresh tomatoes

TomatoBasketAs in not tasteless tennis ball factory tomatoes

Late summer is high season for real, fresh tomatoes.  The flavor of local (because real ripe tomatoes do not ship well) vine-ripened tomatoes can only be enjoyed for a few weeks each year.  After that, it pretty much not worth buying raw tomatoes because they rarely have any flavor, and the texture is frequently chewy and disagreeable.  In my opinion, tomatoes bred to ship well, maintain a reddish color and never spoil are an insult to our taste buds.

Fresh tomatoes are something of a nutritional powerhouse.  They’re 95% water, so they’re filling without adding a lot of calories.  1 large tomato (about 6.5 oz or 3 inches in diameter) has:

  • 33 calories
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 430 mg of potassium
  • 25 mg vitamin C
  • 1500 IU of vitamin A
  • insignificant amounts of fat and sodium

Are organic tomatoes better?

If you don’t want to buy produce grown with fertilizer or treated with pesticides, buy organic.  But don’t count on them to have more nutrients.  Nutritional content of tomatoes, and all plants, depends more on the variety grown, soil conditions, weather conditions, water supply and time of harvest.

Are heirloom tomatoes better?

Heirloom tomatoes come in different colors, and may have different flavors.  That doesn’t have much effect on nutrient content.  Again, nutrient content depends more on soil, weather and water conditions during the growing season.

Using tomatoes

  • Only buy as many fresh tomatoes as you can consume over 3-4 days.  They don’t need to be refrigerated if they’re not cut.  Once you slice or chop them, you need to use them right away or refrigerate to preserve the quality.
  • Slice and eat with a fork, with salt and pepper, maybe a dash of vinegar.
  • Cut into chunks and toss with fresh chopped basil or oregano, feta cheese, vinegar and olive oil
  • Slice and top with slices of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaves.
  • Add wedges of fresh tomato to salads.
  • Add slices to sandwiches or burgers
  • Add chopped fresh tomatoes to wraps and burritos
  • Use slices of fresh tomato in an omelet
  • Make a mini-pizza with 1/2 toasted English muffin, 1 large thick slice of fresh tomato and a thin slice of mozzarella, broiled.
  • Toss wedges of fresh tomato with just-cooked pasta, grated parmesan and chopped fresh basil

There are plenty of ways to use up fresh tomatoes, so no need to leave them sitting around in the kitchen until they start to go bad.

 

 

 

 

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