Heirloom Tomatoes

tomatoesDo you know how much we love this time of the year? There’s an abundance of amazing fruit from which to choose (we LOVE organic white nectarines!), which makes it so easy to eat the colors of the rainbow and fill up on all of those good-for-you antioxidants. The other great find right now until October are Heirloom Tomatoes.

We all grew up eating basic red Hot House or Beefsteak tomatoes. Unfortunately, these kinds of mass-produced tomatoes available in your local supermarket do not do justice to what a real tomato tastes like. These tomatoes are picked green (so they can survive the long process from picking to transport to store shelf) and ripened with the help of ethylene gas. The resulting flavor is bland and mealy, nothing like a real tomato.

It’s time to break free from this tomato hell and head over to your local farmers market, Whole Foods store, or other specialty market that carries high-quality produce. Check out the heirloom tomato display and allow your eyes to feast on the array of shapes, sizes, and colors that these tomatoes come in. There are over 500 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, but chances are your local farmer will be selling about a dozen different kinds. Each one has it’s own unique flavor (some sweeter than others), texture, and level of acidity. Some are better for cooking while others are best eaten raw. Ask your farmer at the farmers market about the differences between the varieties so you’ll have a better idea about which ones to buy. Plus, they’re more than happy to give you a taste. Once you get them home, make sure to store them at room temperature away from direct sunlight. They will continue to ripen as they sit, but if you let them sit for too long, they will start to dehydrate (notice the wrinkly skin), get mushy, and rot. Buy only what you will use within the next 3-4 days.

GOOD FOR YOU, TOO!

Tomatoes are jam-packed full of good nutrition. High in vitamins A and C, fiber, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant which has been associated with lower risk of prostate cancer. It’s a great time to feed that man in your life a good homemade pasta sauce!

HOW TO USE

Caprese Salad

One of the easiest and most delicious ways to use heirloom tomatoes is in a caprese salad. Slice nice and thick rounds of tomatoes (choose 2-3 different colors of tomatoes), a little bit of a good, fresh mozzarella cheese, and arrange them on a plate. Top with some balsamic syrup, a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a dash of sea salt and cracked fresh black pepper,  and a chiffonade of fresh basil. It couldn’t be easier or more beautiful!

Gazpacho soup

For a simple and refreshing summertime meal, try a gorgeous bowl of gazpacho soup. Click here for our version as well as a Golden Gazpacho.

Sauteed Tomatoes

For a simple vegetarian dish that can be served hot or cold, or folded into some whole-grain pasta or grain (quinoa, barley, or brown rice), try sauteing up some grape or sugar plum tomatoes with some chopped sweet yellow onion, and freshly shucked white or yellow corn. Add a  little sea salt and black pepper and saute until the veggies are getting a golden color, which makes them even sweeter. So quick and easy.

If you want to learn more about Heirloom tomatoes, check out Amy Goldman’s book, The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table.

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