You Say Tom-ay-toes; I Say Tom-ah-toes!

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‘Twas a wise man who once said that the difference between knowledge and wisdom is having the knowledge to know that a tomato is a fruit and the wisdom to know not to put it in a fruit salad. “

Tomatoes originally came from Peru where their Aztec name translated to “plump thing with a navel.” In the 1500s, the tomato made its way to Europe where the French dubbed it “the apple of love” (aka “the love apple”), and the Germans hailed it as “the apple of paradise.” Either way, mankind has been having a love fest with the common tomato for centuries.

So, is the tomato a fruit masquerading as a vegetable? Botanically, the tomato has a sac that contains egg cells, and it grows from a flowering plant, which, scientifically, makes it a fruit; however, in 1893, the Supreme Court ruled it to be a vegetable because the tomato is eaten in soups, salads, and main dishes, and if it were to be eaten in desserts, or in hand, only then it would be classified a fruit.

What makes this “fruit veggie” so appealing? To start with, the U.S. Department of Agriculture claims there are 25,000 tomato varieties, and although the taste of a crisp juicy tomato may be thought of as a perfect addition to a colorful spring or summer salad, the tomato can be a great addition to a fall or winter menu as well. Adding flavorful tomatoes to your diet during the chilly months may be as simple as mixing up a zesty salsa to pair with chips or other veggies during a high-scoring game, stirring up a tasty spaghetti sauce to pour over your favorite pasta and share with family or friends, or, perhaps, preparing a piping hot simmering pot of vegetable soup ready to serve family-style. Tomatoes, the versatile stars of the veggie world can also be canned, dried, or preserved.

Tomatoes are excellent sources of potassium, folic acid, and vitamins A, C, and E, and they contain inflammatory nutrients called carotenoids (that gives tomatoes their red color) and bioflavonoids; and as it turns out, they contain Lycopene which makes them an excellent skin treatment source. Who knew! A tomato’s acidity is powerful enough to clear up blemishes by applying the pulp to the affected area for about 30 minutes each day for two weeks to see fewer breakouts. Mixing tomatoes with plain yogurt can sooth a sunburn. To relieve an itchy scalp and dry hair, pouring tomato juice directly on your hair and leaving on for about five minutes should do the trick.

Here’s some dirt on growing your own: Growing tomatoes is rewarding but also takes planning. A few main points are: Ask questions and seek advice from your local garden center before planting. Make sure that you have enough time to devote to your tomato garden. Choose the best garden spot with lots of sun. Decide on a layout, and prepare the soil. Tomatoes can also be grown in pots, hanging pots, greenhouses, or raised beds, and during the cooler months, they may also be grown indoors.

So, whether you plan on eating your tomatoes, slathering them on your face, drinking them in your Bloody Mary, or digging in the dirt, tomatoes are one of the most delicious, nutritious and distinctive vegetables on our planet. There are approximately 16 calories and 1.1 grams of fiber in a small tomato, and yet it packs a powerful punch. Get back to basics, add a slice of tomato to your sandwich, and reap the health benefits from the best “non-fruity-fruit vegetable” on the planet.

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”

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Tomato Bruschetta Appetizer for Two

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup ripe grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise (Roma tomatoes may be used instead)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped Basil
  • ½ Cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • ¼ Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Lb. Loaf of French Bread

Toss all ingredients except bread together in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes, giving the flavors a chance to come together. Drizzle olive oil on the bread and toast bread in oven for one minute each side or until slightly brown. Top bread chunks with tomato mixture using slotted spoon. Broil for one or two more minutes and serve.

No Cook Pasta Sauce

In a large bowl combine several chopped tomatoes, a clove or two of minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Add olive oil to coat tomatoes. Add hot pasta and toss to coat pasta. Add more olive oil, if you like. Bits of fresh mozzarella can be added – they will get a bit melted when tossed with the hot pasta, and that’s okay. Red chili flakes, basil, oregano, chopped olives, and freshly shredded parmesan are all flavorsome additions as well.

Cheesy Grilled Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Tomatoes
  • 1/3 Cup crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh chopped Basil
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat grill. Cut tomatoes in half crosswise. With a small spoon, scoop out seeds from seed cavities. Fill the cavities with the blue cheese. Drizzle the tomatoes with the oil and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Place the tomatoes, cut sides up, in disposable foil pie pan or on heavy duty foil. Heat in medium heat oven for 15 minutes or until tomatoes are thoroughly heated and they begin to soften.


Fun Facts

  1. Raw tomatoes consist of 93% water.
  2. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat between 22-24 lbs of tomatoes per year (more than half of those munchies are ketchup and tomato sauce).
  3. The leaves of the tomato plant are poisonous.

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