September 23rd, 2019

 

If you didn't know this already, tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, which also includes potatoes, peppers and eggplants. The U.S. Supreme Court declared them a vegetable in 1893, tomatoes are actually a fruit since they grow on a vine, form a flower and contain seeds. They're in season from May through October, with some variation depending on where you live in the US.

I love this time of year for the larger heirloom types of tomatoes. Heirloom varieties are very special because their cultivators have saved the seeds and passed them down through the generations. They come in a range of sizes and cool colors like purple, striped and black. The varieties of heirloom tomatoes are endless, so chose some that look and taste different from your normal Roma tomato.

Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, providing about 1.5 grams per average-sized tomato. Most of the fibers (87%) in tomatoes are insoluble, in the form of hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin.

The main plant compounds in tomatoes are:
1) Lycopene. A red pigment and antioxidant, lycopene has been extensively studied for its beneficial health effects.
2) Beta carotene. An antioxidant that often gives foods a yellow or orange hue, beta carotene is converted into vitamin A in your body.
3) Naringenin. Found in tomato skin, this flavonoid has been shown to decrease inflammation and protect against various diseases in mice.
4) Chlorogenic acid. A powerful antioxidant compound, chlorogenic acid may lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels.

Roasted Tomato Open Faced Sandwich
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 heirloom tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 pieces of thick whole wheat toast or sour dough
3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon freshly chopped basil
1 teaspoon freshly chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400°f.
How to make:
Place the chopped tomatoes into a zip lock bag, add the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic, zip the bag closed and allow the oil mixture to infuse with the tomatoes for 10 minutes. Open the bag and spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet, pop into the oven and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Toast the bread, then thinly spread a ½ teaspoon of mustard onto each piece. Then spread 1 ½ tablespoons of ricotta on top of each mustard piece of toast. Place as many roasted tomato chunks onto each piece of toast, garnish with fresh basil and chives. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed.

 

Enjoy,
Chef Mark .

Copyright © 2018, 2019 Mark Allison