By Sara Baker
Eating seasonally is not only better for the environment but the food generally tastes better and is less expensive. However, in our instant gratification society, you can go to the grocery store and most likely find anything you want at any time, even tomatoes in December. But if you ever compared a tomato in December and August, you should be able to tell a significant difference in taste. Though once something is in season, you might find yourself with an abundance of one vegetable and can easily tire can of it or run out of ideas of what to do with it.
I love tomatoes and currently they are in season and tasting the best. My husband on the other hand, claims he hates tomatoes unless it is in salsa or bruschetta or best of all ketchup :) Since he will not eat plain raw tomatoes I have had to find ways to use all the tomatoes I am collecting from my farmers market. Here are a few very simple uses for tomatoes. Everything is approximate and to taste, so have fun.
1. Fresh Salsa: Salsa is one of the best fat loss condiments. You can put it on eggs, “tacoless salads,” chicken etc. The best part of making your own is that you can control the amount of sodium, the usual downfall of store bought salsas. Be aware that this salsa will not last super long in the fridge, so eat up.
Combine: 4 chopped plum tomatoes, lime juice, 1-2 gloves garlic, salt, pepper, 1-2 jalapeños, ½ onion and ½ cup cilantro. Using a food processor, pulse ingredients to desired consistency. Be careful not to process too much or it will be come too watery.
2. Tomato Garlic Topping: I made this last night and served it over trout and it was delicious.
Sautee 2 garlic cloves in a small amount of olive oil, add two seeded and chopped tomatoes. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Stir 3-4 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup chopped fresh basil. Serve over fish or chicken. Option to add a little parmesan cheese for a little extra flavor.
3. Tomatillo, Tomato, Cucumber and Red Onion Salad: I was just recently introduced to the tangy green tomatoes, known as tomatillos. These are great fresh as they have so much flavor.
Combine: 3-4 chopped and seeded hot house tomatoes, 3-4 tomatillos, ½ chopped cucumber, ½ red onion, sea salt and pepper to taste, 1-2 tbsp olive oil and 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Optional: add chopped basil.
Not only are tomatoes incredibly versatile but they are very good for you. Very high in Vitamin C, A and K as well as lycopene. Lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes (and everything made from them) has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. Take advantage of this time of year and all the amazing produce. It is so easy to eat clean and fresh with all the choices. I would love to hear some of your favorite summertime recipes.