Tomatoes are plentiful at farmers’ markets these days. The season (July to September) is a-happening!
Tomatoes, as we know, aren’t veggies – they’re fruits. And did you know that tomatoes are related to berries? Another fun tip: In France, the tomato is known as “pomme d’amour”, the love apple.
Tomatoes weren’t always a “pomme d’amour” of mine – they were my most despised nemesis. I absolutely hated (hated!) the gooey seeds. I called them “tomato fat.” But I really think that my tomato nemeses were the grocery store tomatoes – the pulpy, seedy, never-seem-to ripen variety. Once I embraced beautiful, heirloom summer tomatoes, I was hooked. They are a game changer, and totally different from the grocery store variety.
I had the pleasure of eating tomatoes straight off the vine this weekend, at my family’s place up north. Love affair, indeed.
Honestly, what’s better than a beautiful plate of tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and a little pepper? Not much!
They’re not just delicious – tomatoes are healthy too. Here are some of the health benefits of tomatoes:
- Excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant which provides many benefits. Interestingly, tomatoes don’t need to be deep red in colour to contain this wondrous antioxidant. This is good news if you’re into buying heirloom varieties, which can range in colour from light yellow to deep purple.
- High in vitamin C (a potent antioxidant), A (for eye health) and K (for bone health). Tomatoes are also a good source of potassium, fibre, and vitamin B6.
- Tomatoes are good for heart health, due to their high antioxidant levels and interesting ability to regulate fats in the bloodstream.
- Bone health.
- Cancer protection, especially for the prostate. This is due to tomatoes’ high antioxidant levels, including lycopene and beta carotene.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know how I feel about tarragon (it’s a herbalicious way to stimulate your appetite and regulate blood sugar). And I especially love the taste combination of tomatoes and tarragon. It’s kind of like a variation of another favourite old standby, tomatoes and basil. See below for three ways to combine these exciting flavours into something healthy (and delicious). Most of which are raw, because in the summer, we like it raw. Note: if you don’t like the taste of tarragon, feel free to substitute with basil, mint or parsley.
A note on refrigerating tomatoes: DON’T DO IT. Putting these delicate little fruits in the fridge renders them pulpy and icky. They’re best left on the counter, which will retain their delicious texture. Anyhoo, back to tomatoes and tarragon.
As a soup: blend tomatoes with plenty of tarragon, a little salt and pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil into a soup that will have you oohing and ahing.
As a twist on a caprese salad: slice tomatoes any way you like, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, some chopped tarragon, and a little minced garlic. This is a lovely summer side dish.
As a quinoa salad: cook quinoa and add a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped tarragon, chopped cherry tomatoes and capers. This is the perfect summer lunch.