When it comes to summertime produce, perhaps one of the first treats to come to mind are vibrant, juicy tomatoes.
And among the many wonderful things to love about tomatoes is that they come in a variety of sizes, colors and even flavors that make cooking with them so much more fun. From bright orange heirloom cherry tomatoes to hearty beefsteak tomatoes, you can find ways to enjoy all types of tomatoes all summer long.
Even if you’re not a fan of fresh tomatoes picked right from the vine, there are still so many ways to elevate the tomato’s flavor into something truly delicious. Beyond great taste, tomatoes also offer some great health benefits that are worth taking advantage of.
Whether you count the days till you can pick up a quart of fresh red grape tomatoes from the farmers market or have typically just stuck to sauce for your pasta, all can find delight and great taste with tomatoes.
To help you discover the rich flavor and versatility of tomatoes, here we share about the great benefits of tomatoes as well as can’t-miss recipes to celebrate the season with.
But first, there’s a debate to settle. Both fruits and vegetables have important benefits and some common similarities in how they are grown and harvested. Yet there seems to be a continual debate of whether a tomato is considered to be a fruit or a vegetable. The answer? Well, it’s both.
Botanically, a tomato is a fruit. This is because it forms flowers and contains seeds inside of it. However, they can also be called a vegetable from a culinary standpoint. Historically and in the kitchen, tomatoes have assumed the status of a vegetable based on how they are used in dishes and with what foods they’re grouped with. Other foods with this identity crisis include things like zucchini, squash and peppers.
So in the great fruit or vegetable debate, the answer is generally both. Yet whatever you decide to call it, it still brings on valuable health benefits that you won’t want to miss out on.
Whether you call it a fruit or a vegetable, tomatoes are rich in important vitamins and nutrients to keep you well and healthy. For example, tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a key antioxidant known for things like preventing certain types of cancer and heart disease. This power antioxidant also can help in things like supporting your overall heart health and controlling diabetes.
They are also rich in vitamins like Vitamin C and Vitamin K, as well as minerals like potassium and folate. These vitamins are highly valuable in helping to support numerous areas of your body.
Other significant health benefits of tomatoes includes things like improved vision, due to the lutein and beta-carotene it contains. You can also find relief from digestive ailments with a tomato’s rich fiber and water content.
Whether for health or for taste, tomatoes pack in a lot of benefits in a small food.
What’s your favorite type of tomato? Perhaps you crave popping a fresh cherry heirloom tomato in your mouth as a quick snack. Or, maybe you can wait to slice a Roma to layer on your sandwich. Whatever your go-to tomato treat is, this fruit - or vegetable - is a versatile ingredient that’s easy to incorporate in your summertime meals. To help spark some new and classic ideas, here we share some great and delicious tomato recipes just in time for summer.
Agrodolce Panzanella Salad - This simple summer salad recipe combines the diverse textures of crisp cucumber, soft bread and of course, vibrant tomatoes. The Rosemary Agrodolce also amps up the sweetness for a great side dish.
Baked Bruschetta - Perhaps one of the easiest ways to feature tomatoes in an appetizer is through a bruschetta. Typically, bruschetta is a tomato topping placed on a crostini. From there, you can let your creativity soar. This recipe incorporates other flavors like Pesto and cheese.
Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart - Blend the creamy goat cheese with the vibrant heirloom tomatoes for an easy treat that can be served for breakfast, lunch or just as a snack. The savory filling includes a drizzle of Basil EVOO that really enhances the savory flavor.
BLT Chopped Salad - Revamp a classic BLT by adding in some extra greens. This versatile salad incorporates those three main ingredients you love - bacon, lettuce, and of course, tomato, but brings a unique spin. You can also add in things like crunchy sweet corn and feta cheese to layer on the textures and tastes.
Cucumber and Tomato Salad - Pair the soft burst of sweet cherry tomatoes with the refreshing crunch of cucumber in this easy summer salad. Top it off with a sweet dressing made with Sicilian Lemon balsamic for a go-to side.
Gazpacho with Garlic Croutons - Whip up a delicious batch of this cold tomato soup that brings in rich flavors like jalapeño, cucumber, pepper, onion and more.
Asparagus Gazpacho - While gazpacho is traditionally made with fresh tomatoes puréed and served cold. This new take on a classic incorporates another springtime veggie, asparagus. The tomatoes are incorporated as an add-on to elevate the sweet flavor.
Baked Chicken with Tomatoes - This easy go-to dinner brings two great things together: chicken and tomatoes. Opt for fresh tomatoes rather than canned for a bright and savory dish that’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.
Blueberry Caprese - Put those fresh cherry tomatoes to good use with a sweet and savory take on a traditional caprese. This recipe amps up the sweetness by adding in fresh blueberries and a drizzle of 18 Year Balsamic Vinegar.
Caprese Phyllo Cups - Take your caprese even further by presenting them in small phyllo cups. Not only will this new take on a classic be delicious, it’ll also look beautiful and appetizing as well. A sprinkle of the Tuscan Spice also adds an extra zest to each bite.
Corn & Black Bean Salsa - When it comes to using up those ripe Roma tomatoes, you can’t go wrong with salsa. This recipe brings in corn and black beans, along with Iron Fish Honey Vinegar and Cilantro & Onion EVOO, for a great pairing with your favorite chip.
Beet and Tomato with Pomegranate and Red Onion Dressing - Take these bright summer veggies center stage with this easy salad. The dressing brings the beets and tomatoes together with a sweet Pomegranate balsamic and other flavors like cilantro, lime and red onion.
Cheese-filled Crepes with Asparagus-Tomato Slaw - Balance the savory cheese with a bright pop of color and flavor with a slaw that incorporates two great summertime veggies. Made with Meyer Lemon EVOO, the slaw compliments the cheesy, rich crepe nicely.
Herb Roasted Tomatoes - Slice up some fresh cherry tomatoes and roast them in the oven for a versatile topping for pasta or just as an easy side. Compliment the tomato flavor with a drizzle of Tuscan Herb EVOO or another herb-infused oil.
While you can most likely find tomatoes in the grocery store any time of year, there’s something special about being able to find fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes from your local farmers market. Whether you’re all about the Romas or enjoy the bright colors of cherry heirlooms, tomatoes can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.
What’s your favorite way to taste tomatoes? Let us know here in the comments or share with us on our social media accounts.
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