Summer Tomatoes: 3 Ways

I don’t think there is any other fruit or vegetable that I look forward to as much as Summer Tomatoes. The rich color, intense aroma, and sweet & juicy flavor is like nothing else. The disappointment however in a pale-pink winter tomato is reason enough for me to wait all year for their return. However, when they do return, I want to enjoy them as much as possible and for as long as possible. Besides being so yummy, tomatoes are also a powerhouse of nutritional benefit.

  • They are rich in the phytonutrient lycopene, which is a great antioxidant and cancer fighter (specifically against prostate cancer).

  • They contain a wide variety of nutrients but are especially high in vitamin C, biotin, vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin K.

  • Their high antioxidant content make them important in protecting the heart as well as supporting bone health.

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  • Diets that include tomatoes have also been linked with reduced risk for neurological diseases, like Alzheimer’s.

  • Disclaimer: The only caveat for tomatoes is that they are a member of the nightshade family and for some people who have a sensitivity to nightshades this means they can contribute to increased inflammation.

Thankfully tomatoes are often still abundant at the end of summer and beginning of autumn, so there’s no reason to remove them from your market list just yet. I firmly believe that cooking should only highlight the already awesome flavor and color of seasonal food. The fresher the food, the more simple the cooking. For this reason, there’s really not much left to do to an already scrumptious tomato. Here are 3 super simple ways to highlight tomatoes on your table. These are the go-to tomato recipes my family enjoys.

Summer Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 bag pasta (can substitute with gluten-free noodles or even bean-based noodles if you’re avoiding grains)

  • 1 bunch spinach or 2 large hand fulls of baby spinach, washed

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (my favorites are sungold but you can any that you love)

  • 1/4 bunch of basil, washed, chopped

  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (can exclude if avoiding dairy)

  • extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Step 1. Cook pasta on stove-top, according to directions on package (al dente will have a lower glycemic index) Step 2. While pasta is cooking combine the spinach, basil, tomatoes, garlic, pine nuts, and feta (if using) in a bowl. Mix to combine. Step 3. Add pasta, mix with other ingredients, and add olive oil to desired moistness (admittedly I don’t usually measure the olive oil, just drizzle it all over). Toss thoroughly and enjoy on it’s own or use it as a side with grilled chicken or fish and a salad. We also like to use this recipe as a go-to potluck or picnic contribution.

Tomato Mozarella Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 container of small mozzarella balls, halved

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped

  • extra-virgin olive oil, to taste

  • Optional: a drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Directions

  • Combine everything in a bowl, toss thoroughly, and serve!

Tomato Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 medium vine-ripened or heirloom tomatoes, cut in wedges

  • 1 medium cucumber, cut in wedges

  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled or chopped in small cubes

  • homemade dressing (again I don’t usually measure, just drizzle to coat)

  • Optional: can add some olives or fresh herbs; parsley, mint, or dill would work well

Directions

  • Combine everything in a bowl, toss thoroughly, and serve!

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