5 recipes with tomatoes - a powerful antioxidant
By Dr Megan Chircop, 8/10/2016
Tomatoes are incredibly good for you. They are a useful source of nutrients, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Their best asset though is most likely the powerful antioxidant, lycopene, which aids in protecting the body from disease. Their other best quality is that tomatoes are extremely low in calories, only 18 per 100g (medium tomato), and are very low-GI, making them a perfect choice to include in your weight loss meal plan. There are numerous varieties such as roma, truss, cherry, heirloom, grape and of course there is nothing wrong with canned tomatoes. Vine-ripened tomatoes are far more flavourful than mass-produced tomatoes picked before they have a chance to ripen, leaving them tasteless. We suggest you use vine-ripened tomatoes where possible. They are extremely versatile in hundreds of dishes that can be enjoyed all year round – salads, sauces, stews, and more. Here are 5 ways we love to enjoy them.
1) Mixed tomato salad
Take 1 kg of vine-ripened tomatoes (different varieties including cherry). Halve or quarter the larger ones and place in a large bowl. Add 2 sliced spring onions or a small red onion thinly sliced. Tear a handful of basil leaves and scatter over the top of the tomatoes. Dress with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Great as a side dish with any BBQ.
BOOST the FLAVOUR – Use a herb-infused olive oil.
2) Tomato sauce
In a blender, combine a splash of olive oil, a can of whole tomatoes plus a quarter of a can of water or stock, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a pinch of sugar, season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Pour into a saucepan, bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes. Reduce to the consistency you like or is right for your dish. Season with whatever spices you like to suit the dish (see below).
BOOST the FLAVOUR – Add taco or burrito seasoning for a Mexican dish, oregano and basil for an Italian pasta sauce or add Indian spices and natural yoghurt for a healthy butter chicken sauce. The versatility is endless, just use a little imagination.
3) Stuffed tomatoes
Cut off the top third of 4 large tomatoes. Reserve tomato lids. Place tomato shells in a baking dish sprayed with olive oil.
Scoop out the seeds and flesh into a bowl. Chop up the flesh if needed. Add a handful of chopped mint, 3 finely sliced spring onions, a squeeze of lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, sultanas and a drizzle of olive oil.
Cook cous cous or rice (gluten-free) and stir through tomato mixture. Spoon into tomato shells. And place the tomato lid on top. Bake in a moderate oven until soft. Enjoy as a side dish with a frittata to keep it vegetarian) or a piece of juicy steak. Or enjoy as a light lunch with a fresh garden salad.
BOOST the FLAVOUR – Use a herb-infused olive oil. Instead of topping the tomatoes with the lids, sprinkle over a mixture of parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs to get a crispy top.
4) Oven-roasted tomatoes
This is too simple but oh so yummy! You can use any tomato variety but roma’s are our favorite as they have a large amount of flesh will little juice.
Cut tomatoes into halves length-wise. Lay on a baking tray sprayed with olive oil. Sprinkle over dried oregano (fresh will burn), salt, pepper. Splash with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Roast in a moderate oven until ‘semi’-dry. Don’t dry out too much or they will become leathery. Semi-dry is perfect as that beautiful tomato flavour has been intensified whilst retaining sufficient moisture. We love these spooned onto bruschetta toast with some basil and finely chopped red onion scattered over the top.
BOOST the FLAVOUR – Change the flavour profile to whatever cuisine you like. For example, tomatoes are fantastic with most things Mexican – swap the oregano for Mexican seasoning.
We love our ratatouille roasted to intensify those Mediterranean flavours, not to mention that it is so easy to prepare. But of course you can cook this on the cooktop if you prefer. The vegetables will just become a little more melted down. Roasting preserves their shape a little more. So let’s get started!
In a large baking dish, place a can of tomatoes, a ¼ can of water or stock (or wine), then add the following vegetables chopped a little chunky – a capsicum, zucchini, eggplant, celery and onion. Season with salt and pepper, a pinch of sugar, oregano, basil, a tablespoon of tomato paste and a good drizzle of olive oil all over. Stir gently to combine so that all the vegetables are coated in the juices. Cover tightly with foil. Bake in a moderate oven for 1 – 1 ½ hours. Stir gently every 30 minutes. Add a little more water or stock if it gets too dry. During the final 30 minutes, drain a can of artichokes (cut in to quarters) and stir through.
BOOST the FLAVOUR – Serve as a side dish or during the final 10 minutes of cooking crack a few eggs on top for a vegetarian delight.