For the month of July, we shift our focus to Tomatoes

  • There has been a long debate over whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. A Tomato is in fact a fruit, however nutritionally more so represents the characteristics of a vegetable and is considered to be a “culinary vegetable”. 1 Cup serving size of tomatoes is about 32 calories, 2-3 gm fiber, 1.6 gm protein, 426 mg of potassium.
  • Tomatoes are packed full of antioxidant properties. They contain lycopene which can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. They also help to slow the development of atherosclerosis (plaque associated with hardening of arteries). Tomatoes have even been shown to reduce the risk for our skin being damaged in the sun by reducing the chances of having sunburn when exposed to UV light.
  • China is the world’s largest producer of tomatoes and produces approximately 52.6 million tons per year. The United States produces around 14.5 million tons, while Mediterranean counties of Spain and Italy only produce 4.9 million tons and 5.6 million tons respectively. Many varieties of tomatoes are grown and each has a unique flavor and varying cooking properties. For example Beefsteak tomatoes have a thinner skin (and shorter shelf life) and are used commercially as well as commonly on sandwiches; Plum tomatoes have a lower water and higher solids content which makes me makes them great for canning, tomato sauce, and tomato paste; there are even tomatoes called Tomberries which are tiny tomatoes only about 5 mm in diameter.

Recipes of the Month

Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh TomatoesSpaghetti

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 pounds fresh roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic powder to skillet; cook and stir until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes
  3. Add tomatoes, sugar, basil, parsley, and salt.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 1-2 hours.

Salsasalsa

Ingredients

  • 6 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 seeded and minced jalapenos, plus 2 roasted, skinned and chopped jalapenos
  • 1 red bell pepper, fine diced
  • 2 dry ancho chiles, seeded, cut into short strips and snipped into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Chili powder, salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh scallions, cilantro or parsley to taste

Directions

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Place in refrigerator for up to 12 hours for flavor infusion.