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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Tomatoes and their sometimes Mediterranean Influence


Tomato:
Pronounce it: toe-mart-oh

A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in fact a fruit, but their affinity for other savoury ingredients means that they are usually classed as a vegetable.

Tomatoes originated in western South America, crossed the Atlantic to Spain with the conquistadors in the 16th century, but only finally caught on in northern Europe in the 19th century. Today they're one of the most important ingredients available, and are especially indispensible in Mediterranean cookery. The skin, flesh and seeds can all be eaten, but the green leaves are toxic, so should always be discarded.

The number of varieties run into the thousands, and they vary in size from the huge beefsteak to tiny cherry tomatoes, but most have a sweet, gently tangy flavour and are good both raw and cooked.


Availability:
All year round, with a constantly changing line-up of varieties from season to season. The British tomato season runs from June to October. In winter, you could use more canned tomatoes to save on food miles (the environmental cost of food transportation).

Tomatoes are easy to grow at home, especially the smaller tumbling varieties.


Choose the best:
Go for firm tomatoes with wrinkle-free skins and a noticeable tomato smell. Tomatoes have the best, sweetest flavour if they've been allowed to ripen on the vine before they've been picked but, if you buy under-ripe tomatoes, you can redden them by keeping them in a brown paper bag at room temperature, or on a windowsill.

The sooner you eat a ripe tomato after it's been picked, the better it will taste, so try to seek out locally grown tomatoes if possible. The leafy tops are a good sign of freshness; they should be perky, rather than wilted. Avoid any tomatoes that show signs of mould.

The type of tomato you buy depends on what you intend to do with it. Here's a run-down of some of the most common types.

Beefsteak: these are the biggest tomatoes, and have a meaty texture with a sweet, mellow flavour. They are good for salads, grilling or stuffing.

Salad (or round): this is the traditional British tomato - it's a good all rounder, but really needs to be ripe to get the best flavour.

Cherry: small and very sweet, cherry tomatoes are pricier than salad tomatoes but their intense flavour is worth the extra cash. They are good in salads, pasta sauces or roasted.

Plum: Available as a baby or full-grown tomato, plum tomatoes have an oval shape, with a rich flavour and comparatively few seeds. Good for making sauces and stews.

Green: there are two types of green tomato. One is unripe, and is quite tart but good for chutneys, or fried. The other is a variety that stays green when ripe, has a tangy flavour and is good in salads or, again, fried.

Yellow: these ripen to a golden yellow colour, and are good in salads, salsas and chutneys.


Prepare it:
Wash, and then leave whole or halve, quarter, slice, chop or dice, as required. If you want to remove the skins before making them into a sauce, cut out the green stalk and core at the top of the tomato, cut a small, shallow cross at its base, then put them in bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to stand for 30 seconds, then drain. When they are cool enough to handle, pull away the loosened skin. Tomatoes are also available tinned, pulped, purr'eed and juiced.


Store it:
Chilling tomatoes mutes their flavour so, unless they are very ripe, they should be stored at room temperature. If you won't be eating ripe tomatoes for a couple of days, put them in the fridge in a perforated bag, but take them out of the fridge for about 30 minutes before eating, so that they can warm up. If you don't use a tin of tomatoes all in one go, transfer the remainder to a non-metal, airtight container and store in the fridge - it will last for around two days.


Cook it:
Roast whole (15-20 minutes). Halve and grill (3-4 minutes). Slice and fry (2-3 minutes on each side). Use in sauces, soups, stews, salads.

Above details taken from here


If you are looking for a great recipe idea that includes tomatoes, this could fit the bill...




Sicilian Baked Red Peppers with cherry vine tomatoes
recipe idea can be seen here

or how about this delicious dish ...


Chicken Caprese with mozzarella and sliced tomato
recipe idea can be seen here


Surely tomatoes are great wherever you live, and if you can grow your own, even better. Why not put them on your shopping (or growing) list soon ...

We try and bring a variety of recipe ideas to this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

20 comments:

Jo said...

That chicken caprese recipe is so simple, I'm definitely going to make that very soon. Another tip for tomatoes is to grow your own, you just don't get a proper tomatoey flavour from those you buy in a supermarket, home grown are so much more flavoursome. I shall be sowing my tomato seeds this week.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, I love tomatoes. We grow the cherry tomato to use in salads and other meals.Thanks for sharing the recipes and links. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

Ryoma Sakamoto.Japan said...

Hello! !
I am grateful to always nice blog message.
“Welcome to Okayama in Okayama Prefecture of Japan from April 1 to June 30, the Land of Sunshine!
Enjoy a side of Japan crafted specially for you. “It has been held.
Please come by all means to play.
https://ryoma2sakamoto.wordpress.com

Debbie said...

we grow tomatoes every year. i love caprese salad with evoo and balsamic vinegar!!!

Debbie said...

and thank you also for all your very kind and very thoughtful comments!!!!

Kezzie said...

I adore tomatoes. My POOR work colleague is not allowed to eat them as they aggravate her arthritis and severe eczema and she hates it!!!
These recipes look nicccccccccccccccccccceeee!!! Have to try the pepper ones!!

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Such a wonderful, versatile food! And so easy to grow in your garden.

Lowcarb team member said...

Jo
Yes, do try the chicken caprese dish - it really is delicious.
Home grown tomatoes taste so good - happy sowing later this week!

Thanks for your comment

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Eileen
Cherry tomatoes in salads are lovely aren't they ... and extra-specially nice if you can grow your own!

Thanks for your comment

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Ryoma
Thank you for taking time to visit the low carb diabetic blog.
We hope you may find articles that will be of interest to you.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Debbie
So nice to grow your own tomatoes and your caprese salad with evoo and balsamic vinegar sounds delicious.

Thanks for your comment

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Debbie
... I always enjoy my visits to your blog and seeing the great photo's you post and your articles. Your cherry blossom looked great today!

Hope you and hubs enjoy the remainder of Tuesday and all good wishes for the remainder of the week.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Kezzie
Yes, tomatoes can be so good to eat, but as I regularly say "We try and bring a variety of recipe ideas to this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter."
I'm sure your work colleague has many great recipes that she can enjoy.

I had a feeling that you may like to try out the Sicilian Baked Red Peppers with cherry vine tomatoes, I'm sure you will enjoy this recipe idea.

Thanks for your comment.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Martha
Don't you just love the wonderful cherry red tomatoes ... well the other colours are great too! Have fun growing your own, and hope you may try one of these recipes soon.

Thanks for your comment

All the best Jan

Denise inVA said...

I love tomatoes Jan, and you gave lots of lovely information here, plus that great recipe. Thank you :)

Happyone said...

Love tomatoes and look forward to growing some this summer. Nothing like a fresh ripe tomato right out of the garden!!

Lowcarb team member said...

Denise
I've always enjoyed eating tomatoes, and over the years have also be able to grow some too!
I love sharing recipe ideas and information about foods ... and I didn't realise that it was not until the 19th century that tomatoes caught on in northern Europe.
Hope you may enjoy some great tasting tomatoes soon ...

Thanks for your comment

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Karen (Happyone)
"Nothing like a fresh ripe tomato right out of the garden!!" ... I couldn't agree more.
Hope you grow some super tasting tomatoes this summer.

Thanks for your comment

All the best Jan

Lisa said...

Cherry tomatoes is something the children have always had in their lunch boxes and enjoyed, for the most part. The chicken recipe is so easy, anything with mozzarella is a hit here.
Lisa x

Lowcarb team member said...

Lisa
I love cherry tomatoes in lunch boxes, so handy.
I have to agree with you - that Chicken Caprese with mozzarella and sliced tomato recipe is a winner!

Thanks for your comment

All the best Jan