Saturday, September 03, 2011

Home Grown Tomatoes

Excellent Ingredient of the Week
Home grown tomatoes are ripening on the vine as we speak — and they are totally worth waiting for. And there is nothing more delicious then eating them as is, but you can also incorporate them into other recipes so here are some great ideas for your beautiful home-grown gems. Some nutritional info about tomatoes:
  • Eating tomatoes, ketchup, tomato sauce and tomato paste-topped pizza more than two times a week can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 21 to 43 percent according to Dr. Edward Giovannucci of the Harvard University School of Public Health.
  • "Cooking tomatoes in oil encourages intestinal absorption and results in a two-to-threefold rise in plasma lycopene concentrations," says Dr. Giovannucci.
  • Tomato products are beneficial in aggressive cancers that have also spread to other parts of the body.
  • Lycopene is a powerful inhibitor of the growth of breast, endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) and lung cancer cells.
  • Tomatoes are good for the eyes. Lycopene, the most abundant carotenoid in the blood serum, was found to be the key antioxidant that guards against ARMD ( Age-Related Macular Degeneration), a condition that may cause blindness.
  • Tomatoes are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Potassium
  • Lycopene is an inhibitor to heart disease.
And here are some recipe ideas:
  • Make sandwiches Slice fresh tomatoes, layer on whole-grain bread (I like to toast mine first), throw in some fresh bail leaves sprinkle with salt and pepper and eat. Or do grilled cheese tomato sandwiches. Or how about a fantastic BLT?
  • Make soup Chilled Gazpacho, cream of tomato soup, tomato basil soup
  • Salsa Pico de Gallo, Picante sauce, Salsa Roja
  • Salads Panzanella (Tuscan tomato-bread salad—recipe to follow at the end), Nectarine-Tomato Salad, Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad, Cucumber-Tomato Salad
  • Oven-Dried Tomatoes Cut into slices, then dry them for 4 hours at 200 degrees in your oven so they last a little longer.
  • Can them So they last a lot longer! Try a Spicy Tomato Jam. It’s delicious over grilled chicken or swordfish, or as an accompaniment to cheese and crackers.
  • Put them on pizza Swap fresh tomatoes for the sauce on pizza. Fresh tomatoes are so flavorful, you won’t need to be heavy-handed with the cheese, making it a sensible way to have your pizza.
  • Bruschetta diced tomato fresh mozzarella, a drizzle of balsamic on a piece of grilled baguette yum!

Panzenella Salad

Ingredients for the salad
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

Ingredients for the vinaigrette
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed. For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.