Make mouth-watering tomatoes an essential part of your summer meals.
There are over a dozen varieties of tomatoes available in the supermarket, including: common tomatoes, with their familiar round shape and bright red skin and flesh; Roma tomatoes, which are elongated and have a rich flavour; cherry tomatoes, which are small and round, and have a sweeter flavour than common tomatoes; grape tomatoes, which are similar to cherry tomatoes in size with a grape-like shape and are available in both red and yellow varieties; and Intense tomatoes, which are designed to hold in their liquid so they don’t ‘leak’ when sliced.
Choose tomatoes that are brightly and evenly coloured, with a strong aroma. Pale or green-tinged tomatoes will continue to ripen after picking.
Allow tomatoes to ripen at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Once ripe, tomatoes can be kept for up to a week, either at room temperature or in the fridge.
Once washed, tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked and added to almost any dish: salads, soups, sandwiches, burgers, pasta dishes and pizzas.
Four quick ways with tomatoes
Make stuffed tomatoes for an easy and healthy dinner. Slice the tops off 8 large tomatoes and set aside. Scoop out flesh, juice and seeds (reserving 1/2 cup juice), leaving a 1cm ‘shell’. Place cut-side-down on a paper towel for 5 minutes to drain. Meanwhile, combine cooked rice, tuna, low-fat cottage cheese, some of the reserved tomato juice, sliced green onions, chopped parsley and black pepper. Stuff tomatoes with mixture and bake at 180°C for 10 minutes. Replace lids and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve with a salad and bread.
For a filling, low-kJ dinner, serve chargrilled lamb steaks with a quick salad made of warmed brown lentils, 1 punnet quartered cherry tomatoes, chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Top with a large dollop of low-fat Greek-style yoghurt.
Make tomato relish by pan-frying 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes and 1/2–1 teaspoon mustard seeds over low heat until softened. Add 3–4 chopped tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons each brown sugar and red wine vinegar. Simmer, stirring, until mixture thickens.
Gazpacho is an easy summer soup that doesn’t require any cooking! In a large bowl, combine 2 cups each of diced cucumber, capsicum and tomato. Add 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion, 2 cups reduced-salt tomato juice, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup red wine vinegar. Season with ground black pepper. Pour half the soup into a bowl and purée with a stick blender. Add back to chunky soup and add a few dashes of Tabasco. Chill for a few hours before serving.
Did you know? The lycopene found in tomatoes has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer, UV damage and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).