Tomatoes, The Queen of Vegetables

In my home tomatoes are one vegetables that we can’t do without.  We eat them raw, cooked, grilled and whatever other way there is to ingest them.  We eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and for snacks when there is no meal on the table.

The food literature I’ve been reading tells me that tomatoes originally came from Peru.  It is believed, although no one is sure, that they went back to Europe on one of Christopher Columbus’s ships during one of his trips following his first landing in the Caribbean.  There are so many varieties of tomatoes that it would be difficult to try to sort them out.

Tomatoes are high in nutritional value no matter what their color.  They are high in vitamin C, B vitamins, Beta Carotene, and several anti-cancer components.  Some scientists give tomatoes credit for the low rate of prostate cancer in Italy.

We  are faced with another problem of freshness in the American where most tomatoes are shipped from Florida and California.  To compensate for the shipping delays, tomatoes that comes in from other states are picked green, then zapped wit methane gas to turn them red, after which they are then offered in the market.  To paraphrase Billy Crystal, they may look marvelous, but they don’t taste very marvelous.  Try to plant your own tomatoes or support your local Farmer’s market.

Refrigerating tomatoes take away most of the flavor.  It is much better to let them sit on the counter, even if there is a danger of over ripening.

Before refrigeration was invented, many cultures invented ingenious ways to preserve tomatoes.  In Latin America salsa became the way to preserve.  In the Mediterranean, drying tomato slices in the sun, or making tomato paste was an accepted type of preservation.  If you are ever in he Mediterranean region in the summer, you’ll find the roofs of houses heavy with tomato slices being dried out, then soaked in olive oil to continue the preservation.

Tomato Salad

serves 4

4          medium ripe tomatoes, diced

4          scallions, chopped

1          medium cucumber, diced

1          clove garlic, mashed

4          tablespoons olive oil

4          tablespoons lemon juice

zest of one lemon

salt to taste

-Place the vegetables in chilled salad bowl.

-Whisk lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, olive oil and salt.  Drizzle the dressing over the vegetable and toss gently.

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