It’s peak tomato season at the local farmers market and the best time to explore heirloom varieties in all their imperfect glory. Read more
Canned tomatoes and jarred sauces are key to surviving winter. But as long as summer’s here, we should make the most of this ruby-red treat in its purest form by consuming our tomatoes fresh, the same day of purchase (or shortly thereafter). Whether you’re converting sweet cherry tomatoes into chunky gazpacho or juicy heirlooms into a hearty salad, this versatile fruit is the winning ingredient in many a summer dish. When choosing tomatoes, look for smooth, bright, blemish-free skin. And remember: A ripe tomato should be fragrant and yield slightly to pressure. Whether you get them from the grocery store, the farmers market or your own garden, these healthy recipes will inspire you to use summer’s essential fruit in everything from soups to salads, and even homemade jam.
Crustless Caprese Quiche (pictured at top)
Food Network Kitchen offers a mealworthy riff on the classic caprese salad in the form of this creamy quiche. Forgoing the crust will not only cut back on preparation time but also save significant calories. Before baking, adorn the top with thinly sliced plum tomatoes for an eye-catching dish.
Plump and juicy tomatoes aren’t just a summertime seduction, they’ve got nutrition credentials as well. They’re low and calories and high in vital nutrients, including choline, fiber and folic acid. They also feature cell-protecting antioxidants lycopene, vitamins A and C, and lutein. (Interestingly, a 2013 study found that organic tomatoes contain more antioxidants than their conventionally grown counterparts.) But whichever type you buy — and however you prepare tomatoes — just remember not to refrigerate them.
Spicy Green Tomato-Avocado Salad (above, from Food Network Magazine)
Green tomatoes are firmer and less sweet than their red equivalents and downright delish. Pair wedges with heart-healthy avocado and a handful of greens, then add a kick from fresh jalapeno. Read more
This time of year, a bowl of sliced fresh tomatoes and a simple dressing can become a delicious meal in itself. Once you’ve had your fill of tomatoes dressed with the classic olive oil and balsamic or red-wine vinegar, try this recipe for a change of pace.
Tomatoes? Check. Corn and cucumber? Double check. The next time you overdo it at the farmers market, you know what to do: Let’s get some salad up in here!
Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Dressing (above, from Food Network Magazine)
Basil and garlic elicit their savory side, but these little tomatoes, tossed in buttermilk-sour cream dressing, also know how to sweet-talk.
Buying: Turn to these antioxidant-packed fruits for a burst of sweet-tart flavor and vitamin C. When shopping for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, look for plump and well-shaped pieces that are brightly colored and firm.
Storing: Berries can be stored at room temperature for about 1 to 2 days. After that, get more mileage by keeping them in the fridge. Wash just before using and dry gently with a paper towel. Want to freeze berries? Use these tips.
Summer is a perfect time to experiment with one of the best flavor boosters beyond the spice rack: fire.
Grills, of course, are great for burgers, chicken and hot dogs. But hot grates also bring out something special in fruits and vegetables, lending a smoky essence (and some sexy grill marks!) to everything they touch. And much like salt, a little heat releases the mouth-watering scent of ingredients, enhancing the flavor of a dish without the extra sodium.
So while you have the kebab skewers out, have some fun. Here, a Caprese salad gets a low-sodium twist with grill-friendly paneer in place of the usual, saltier mozzarella. Just thread everything on a stick, and then head to the barbie.
Summer may be winding down but there are tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes still ready for harvest. Refreshing, crisp and colorful, this simple salad is the perfect side dish to almost any meal. I swapped the traditional herbs like basil and parsley for anise-flavored tarragon, which lends it to fall flavors and comfort foods as well.
Tomato, Cucumber and Radish Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette
• 1 bunch of radishes, stems removed, halved
• 1 English cucumber, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved if large
• 1 tablespoons tarragon, leaves whole
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, combine the vegetables.
In a small bowl, combine the tarragon through mustard. Whisk to combine. Toss with vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.
Photo by Yoni Nimrod