Tomatoes are rich in so many good things, including vitamin C, lycopene and assorted carotenes, that eating them every day is a good idea - especially now, while local, ripe tomatoes are at their peak. Here are ideas for serving tomatoes in a variety of ways. Delicious now, they will be even more welcome when out-of-season tomatoes need a flavor boost.
With their thick, sweet flesh, round cherry and oval grape tomatoes can be a better choice than the regular kind because even if bought at the supermarket, they taste good year round. They’re great for adding color to a green salad, but they also do well on their own. Halve these miniatures, then toss them with a light dressing of lemon juice, rice wine vinegar and a few drops of olive oil. This dressing makes it possible to serve them as a salad, heaped on a bed of lettuce that gets bathed with their tangy juices and the dressing.
Fresh salsa is another treat. Think of adding diced mango, jicama, cucumber, or other produce when making a salsa. A freshly made salsa richly textured with many ingredients can be so irresistible that your family members will each eat a whole cup, providing a healthy two servings of the minimum recommended “five-a-day” for fruits and vegetables.
Remember that juice counts, too, toward those recommended servings. Try this refreshing savory, salsa-flavored smoothie.
Gazpacho Smoothie - Makes 1 serving
1 small tomato, quartered
3/4 cup tomato juice cocktail, chilled
2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1/4 jalapeño pepper (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Juice of 1/2 fresh lime (about 1 Tbsp.)
Small wedge of fresh lime and a cherry tomato for garnish (optional) chopped
Freeze tomato in a plastic bag until hard, about 3 to 4 hours. (They will keep up to one week. Several tomatoes may be frozen at a time.)
Place frozen tomato, juice, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, cumin and lime juice in a blender. Purée until well blended and almost smooth.
Pour into a tall tumbler filled with ice cubes. Garnish, if desired, with a small wedge of lime and a cherry tomato, speared on a short skewer and added to the glass like a swizzle stick. Serve immediately.
(Recipe can be multiplied to make more servings, but you may want to cut down on garlic and jalpeno if you do.)
Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 86, Fat: 0 g. total fat, Sodium: 444 mg, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 2 g
"Something Different" is written for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) by Dana Jacobi, author of The Joy of Soy and recipe creator for AICR's Stopping Cancer Before It Starts.
AICR offers a Nutrition Hotline (1-800-843-8114). Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday, this free service allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. The Institute provides a wide range of education programs that help millions of Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. The Institute has provided more than $57 million in funding for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR's Web address is www.aicr.org.