Tomatoes: nutrition, storage and great recipes
Summer is tomato season
Is there anything better than a vine-ripened summer tomato? With a little salt and pepper and maybe a splash of olive oil, very little else is needed for a great meal. Lucky you if you have grown your own and get to experience a sun-warmed tomato fresh from the vine. If you haven't planted tomatoes, don't despair. Great summer tomatoes can be found at Farmers' Markets and through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organizations.
Health benefits of tomatoes
From a health and nutrition standpoint, there is a lot to like about tomatoes. Tomatoes are loaded with good stuff. They are high in vitamin C & K, biotin, a range of minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Tomatoes are anti-inflammatory and have been shown to protect against cancer and sun damage as well as promoting heart, bone, and eye health. Eating tomatoes may also aid in reducing the risk of obesity, Alzheimer's and depression.
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Symbiotic benefits of tomatoes eaten with other foods
When some foods are eaten in combination their nutritional benefits are boosted. The nutritional value of tomatoes goes up when eaten with a little fat, particularly olive oil or avocado. Fat facilitates the absorption of lycopene. Another symbiotic combination is tomatoes and broccoli. The two eaten together have greater anti-cancer fighting properties than when eaten alone.
How to store tomatoes
Tomatoes should never be stored in the refrigerator. Refrigerated tomatoes lose their flavor and their texture becomes mealy. Store in a single layer, not touching and out of direct sunlight.
If you want to hasten ripening, store tomatoes in a paper bag.
Cooked vs. raw: What is the best way to eat tomatoes?
The answer is it is good to eat tomatoes both cooked and raw. Cooking tomatoes makes lycopene, an important antioxidant, more available for the body to absorb. Unfortunately, cooking also destroys vitamin C. I like to eat tomatoes both raw and cooked, sometimes in the same dish. I garnish chili made with cooked tomatoes with chopped fresh tomatoes as well as other fresh veggies. This way I get the benefits of both cooked and raw tomatoes.
Great tomato recipes from our archives
Here are some of our all-time best summer tomato recipes. The tomatoes are all fresh or roasted to highlight the best of their summertime flavor.
Summer-simple, this recipe celebrates vine-ripened tomatoes like no other dish.
Another easy summer recipe that makes the best of summer-ripe tomatoes.
A meal at The Mountain Standard restaurant in Vail was the inspiration for this delicious cold soup. If you find yourself the owner of too many golden heirloom tomatoes celebrate your good fortune with this soup.
This is my happy salad. It makes me happy because it is so delicious and takes only 15 minutes to make if you are slow. You are guaranteed rave reviews.
Refreshing and easy, go heavy on the mint as it really brightens this salad.
If you have some great tomatoes and a day-old loaf of bread you have the makings for this wonderful salad. My friend Mike taught me how to make this at his Napa Valley farm house.
Traditional gazpacho is made with bread crumbs. If you are a gazpacho enthusiast, but avoiding gluten, this is the gazpacho for you. Even if you are not gluten-adverse, this gazpacho is loaded with flavor and extra protein provided by the quinoa.
This dish really falls somewhere in between a seafood ceviche and a tomato gazpacho. Either way, it is the perfect dish for a hot summer's day.
I love this appetizer. You will be surprised at how good roasted tomatoes and cucumbers are. The open-faced sandwiches come together with a herb-laced feta spread. These sandwiches pair perfectly with an Upper Eastsider cocktail made with gin, cucumbers and mint. Enjoy your summer-ripe tomatoes!