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Time for Tomatoes

By Alana Sugar, August 2, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
It’s tomato time and I am celebrating! Last night I sautéed tiny grape tomatoes in olive oil with garlic, basil, salt and pepper; then spooned it over grilled chicken and served it with steamed zucchini. I love seasonal eating. Although fresh tomatoes are available year-round, quite frankly, I don’t think they are very good until they hit their peak in summer. So, come summer, I celebrate! Tonight: Heirloom tomato salad with cucumbers and feta cheese. Tomatoes have an interesting history. For example, did you know that they are actually a fruit, at least botanically speaking? But, because they are not as sweet as most other fruits, for many years, people cooked them like vegetables and served them up as a salad or a main course, but never as dessert. So, back in 1887, when U.S. tariff laws imposed a duty on vegetables but not on fruit, the status of the tomato become legal fodder! Was it a fruit or a vegetable? The matter actually had to be settled by the United States Supreme Court! In 1893, the high court decided to define the tomato as a vegetable because people ate it for dinner, but never for dessert like they would fruit. Still, this decision did not change the inherent botanical truth of the tomato: It’s a fruit! When it comes to good nutrition, tomatoes are tops. In fact, they are famous for their lycopene. You’ve heard about it — the bright red pigment found most abundantly in ripe red tomatoes. It’s a potent antioxidant – a prominent member of the carotenoid family. It gained fame when studies showed that having a higher intake of tomatoes or higher levels of lycopene in the blood correlated with cancer protection. Enjoying tomatoes raw is part of the fun of summer eating, and raw tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A, but cooking them actually makes the lycopene more available for your body to absorb and use. That’s good news for spaghetti, lasagna and pizza lovers! According to the USDA, a fresh tomato delivers 3.7 mg of lycopene while a 1/2 cup of canned tomatoes has 11.8 mg. But don’t let that discourage you from enjoying the bounty of the summer! Read on for many of my favorite fresh tomato ideas, perfect for summer feasting: All this tomato talk reminds me of my Dad. In our house, there was no such thing as a tomato. Only “TAMATERS,” my Southern father’s all-time favorite food, especially when paired with a delicious CAN-A-TUNER! What’s your favorite way to serve up summer’s fresh tomatoes? Let me know!

 

10 Comments

Comments

sippitysup says ...
Tomatoes are indeed the best of summer! When they are really good I like to serve them in the simplest manner, because sometimes the only decision you need to make is "salt or no salt"! Check out this heirloom salad I made. GREG http://www.sippitysup.com/slicedtomatoesandbasil
08/02/2010 12:10:29 PM CDT
Cooking4carnivores says ...
I like them on a grilled pimento cheese sandwich - http://www.cooking4carnivores.com/2010/07/say-cheese.html Or in a caprese salad in the summer - http://www.cooking4carnivores.com/2009/08/instant-insalata.html
08/02/2010 4:50:19 PM CDT
Sarah says ...
My favorite way to eat tomatoes is for breakfast with eggs and basil. Any combination of the three is delicious, scrambled together or even better: eggs over-easy, a thick, warmed heirloom tomato slice, basil, salt/pepper and your fave toasted bread. I put a little mayo on the toast... but butter works too! Mmmmmm!
08/03/2010 9:22:09 AM CDT
Susanna says ...
How do you can tomatoes?
08/03/2010 12:33:48 PM CDT
Veronica Culver, The Enchanted Cook says ...
I love, love, love tomatoes and especially heirloom. I love their beauty and their tangy, delicious flavor. Fresh, roasted, grilled, sauteed, steamed, pureed...it's always time for tomatoes!
08/04/2010 10:57:08 AM CDT
G T says ...
I love throwing together a smoothie I blend together with fruits like strawberries, pineapple, banana, blue berries, a little plain soy milk and ice cubes. I put it in a thermos or insulated mug something like a thermos. After blending it, I put it in the freezer about 45 minutes and it usually lasts most of the day. Refreshing, easy, quick. I do have to watch my diet because of insulin issues.
08/04/2010 7:06:05 PM CDT
GRETA says ...
I adore grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and the extra small cherry tomatoes which I call pearl tomatoes. I toss a large amount on my salad or have them alone with salad dressing. A bowl of tomatoes and cottage cheese is great too as well as a bowl of tomatoes & green beans. And then there’s tomato sandwiches using a juicy beef steak tomato with lots of pepper-OMG!
08/06/2010 2:06:57 PM CDT
Jane Brass says ...
Halve your favorite cherry or grape tomatoes and toss with smoked salmon, diced red onion, fresh dill and an olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Serve with rye bread and cream cheese.
08/07/2010 6:01:34 PM CDT
OneMoreBite says ...
I love tomatoes, and I get incredible ones from Armenian markets, if I can't get to Whole Foods. Those red balls of love take GAZPACHO to a new level of deliciousness. Tomatoes are my joy boosters! :) I just started a short series of Gazpacho almost-recipes on my blog, if you are poking around for ideas: http://agablack.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/spanish-summer-tastin-uno/ Cheers! Ag
08/10/2010 5:25:44 PM CDT
Lois says ...
To Susanna: You can find tomato canning directions at the National Center for Home Food Preservation http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/index.html Lots of recipes and complete instructions to can safely.
08/14/2010 12:49:58 PM CDT