Get the Most Out of Fresh Tomatoes!!
As the abundance of fresh summer produce heightens up…make the best use of fresh tomatoes this season. You may not know but the tomato not only thrills the taste buds and brightens the dinner table, but it also helps fight disease.
A review of 72 different studies showed consistently that the more tomatoes and tomato products people eat, the lower their risks of many different kinds of cancer. The secret may lie in lycopene, the chemical that makes tomatoes red. In a Harvard research study, among the 72 different studies reviewed, 57 showed that the more tomatoes one ate, the lower the risk of cancer. “The evidence for benefit was strongest for cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach,” he reported.
Processed tomatoes (e.g. canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and ketchup) contain even more lycopene because cooking breaks down cell walls, releasing and concentrating carotenoids. Eating tomatoes with a small amount of fat enables lycopene to be better absorbed.
The tomato is also an excellent source of vitamin C (one medium tomato provides 40% of the RDA) and a good source of vitamin A (20% of the RDA).
Here are some of my favorites, give them a try!
Fresh Tomato Salsa
- 2 large, red ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded (seeding for me is optional, I rarely do it)
- 1 garlic clove peeled
- 1 Anaheim green chili, seeded and cut into thirds
- 3 green onions, cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 ounce chopped green chilies
- 1-3 whole jalapenos seeded and deveined (amount optional to taste)
- ¼ cup fresh Cilantro, chopped
- 1-teaspoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup ice water
- Rapidly boil tomatoes for 1-3 minutes, drop immediately into ice water. Slip off the peel, and the flesh will still be firm. Remove the green stem core and cut the tomatoes in half vertically. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds.
- In the food processor, turn the motor on chop first and drop in the garlic, cilantro, green onions, and jalapeños into the bowl of the food processor to chop for just a few seconds. Turn off the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula.
- Add all the remaining ingredients from the tomato salsa recipe, tomatoes, Anaheim chili, the chopped green chilies, olive oil, and lime juice. Process with brief pulses to reach the desired texture, somewhere between a chow-chow relish and a textured puree. You will want to see bits of all of the vegetables throughout the salsa. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour into a serving bowl and allow to season for approximately one hour. Just before serving mix in the ¼ cup of ice water to cool the salsa.
- Serve with tortilla chips, enhance your favorite chicken recipes, fish, barbecue beef, or with beans wrapped in a tortilla
Italian Baked Chicken with Tomatoes
- 2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tsp. dry oregano
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme (from 2 springs of thyme)
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 5-6 small Roma tomatoes, halved
- Handful chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Pat chicken dry, Place a chicken breast in a large zip-top bag and zip the top (make sure to release any air in the bag first), then place it on your poultry cutting board. Using a meat mallet, pound to flatten the chicken (this step is important). Remove from zip-top bag and reuse bag and mallet to repeat the process with the remaining chicken breast pieces.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and place in a large mixing bowl or dish. Add spices, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and lemon juice. Combine to make sure the chicken is evenly coated with the spices and garlic.
- In a large lightly oiled baking dish or pan, spread onion slices on the bottom. Arrange seasoned chicken on top, and add the tomatoes.
- Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 10 minutes covered, then uncover and bake another 8 to 10 minutes or so. Watch carefully. This can take less or more time depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts. To be sure chicken is cooked through, use an instant digital Cooking or Meat Thermometer for the proper temperature of 165° F.
- Remove from heat. Let chicken breasts rest (cover with foil or another pan) for 5 to 10 minutes or so before serving. Uncover and garnish with fresh parsley and basil. Enjoy!
Panzanella with Mozzarella and Fresh Herbs
(Modified from a NYT recipe. Panzenella is a great way to brighten up, stale dry bread with sweet ripe tomatoes)
- 4 ounces French bread loaf, preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste
- ¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste
- 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties and colors
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
- ½ cup thinly sliced red onion, about half a small onion
- 2 garlic cloves, grated to a paste
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, more to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme (or a combination)
- Large pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup thinly sliced cucumber, about 1 small cucumber
- ½ cup torn basil leaves
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- Heat oven to 425° F. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until they are dried out and pale golden brown at the edges, about 7 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
- Cut tomatoes into bite-size pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Add mozzarella, onions, garlic paste, 1 tablespoon vinegar, oregano or thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes if using. Toss to coat and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, the mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and some black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is thickened. Stir in cucumbers, basil, and parsley.
- Add bread cubes, cucumber mixture, and capers to the tomatoes and toss well. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before serving. Toss with a little more olive oil, vinegar, and salt if needed just before serving.
Mediterranean Baked Fish and Tomatoes
(A great recipe for those eating the Mediterranean Way)
- ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, diced (3 cups diced tomatoes)
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1½ tbsp. capers
- Salt and pepper
- ⅓ cup golden raisins, optional
- 1½ lb. white fish fillet such as cod fillet or halibut fillet (wild, if possible)
- Juice of ½ lemon or more to your liking
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Prepare the tomato and capers sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, cook for 3 minutes until it begins to turn gold in color, tossing regularly. Add tomatoes, garlic, spices, pinch of salt (not too much) and pepper, capers, and raisins. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes or so. (This is a great sauce for other meats as well, and super easy).
- Heat oven to 400° F.
- Pat fish dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Pour ½ of the cooked tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9½″ x 13″ baking dish. Arrange the fish on top. Add lemon juice and lemon zest, then top with the remaining tomato sauce.
- Bake in 400° F heated-oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until fish is cooked through and flakes easily (do not over-cook). Remove from heat and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve hot with grilled squash and zucchini.