Fuel Your Body
By Joanna Gertler | August 08, 2011
Photo by St0rmz via Flickr (cc)
You say tomato, I say let’s eat!
Originally from South America, the tomato was spread around the world following its colonization by the Spanish. Tomatoes are generally consumed as a vegetable, but are in fact a fruit and quite beneficial to the heart, among other organs. In the 16th century, some believed the apple-look-alike to be poisonous and was used as a decoration on the table rather than being consumed.
The juicy red fruit contains the carotene lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants.Some believe that the lycopene in cooked tomatoes can help prevent prostate and other forms of cancer. Lycopene has also been shown to improve the skin's ability to protect against harmful UV rays. Tomato varieties are available with double the normal vitamin C, 40 times normal vitamin A, high levels of anthocyanin (resulting in blue tomatoes), and two to four times the normal amount of lycopene.
As summer draws to a close, tomato crops tend to balloon, such that one can begin to wonder what to do with multitudes of tomatoes that are just too irresistible to leave at the market. I suggest you look no further than the Spanish recipe of gazpacho for a delicious and refreshing cold, summer soup. In fact, I’ve had several versions already this summer and am keen to get a couple batched underway to take advantage of some of the more interesting heirloom varieties now available.
Nowadays you can find all manner of tomatoes: low acid, heirloom, more or less pulpy, etc . it really is a buyer’s market, so ask questions when you’re purchasing and be fussy – you can afford to be picky as we have much more choice nowadays than several years ago. Listed are a few recipes to try – play around with them: if you like your soup chunky, then dice the vegetables. If you prefer a smoother, blended soup then puree it in a blender or food processor to get it to the consistency you want.
- This yellow gazpacho uses yellow tomatoes and an orange for some sweetness.
- For an authentic Spanish recipe for gazpacho, try this – but remember, only use summer tomatoes!
- Here’s one with a few other vegetables added – you may want to blend it thoroughly, or not – but again, be sure to use fresh tomatoes wherever possible.