An interesting veggie, the tomato, beginning with its appearance. Running the gamut of sizes, this rock star may present itself as round, ovoid, or pear shaped. Colors vary as well, from deep red to yellow and even to green, for some of us aficionados.
Although many of us consider this nightshade representative a veggie, it's actually a fruit. In fact, tomatoes were once referred to as “love apples”—and some of them do have a certain sweetness of taste.
Perhaps you'd agree that among the most flavorful for eating raw are the heirloom varieties. Even most hybrids are pretty tasty if picked when ripe...which seems rarely the case, however, if supermarket specimens are anything to go by. Colored cardboard would taste about the same and a lot cheaper, so grow your own if you can. Or get them from your farmers market, where they’ll often be as good as home grown—although perhaps more expensive.
You might also agree that one of the best "toms" for cooking is the Roma. If so, you'll be happy to hear that they're somewhat more nutritious cooked than raw. Apparently, cooking increases their level of lycopene and also the amount your body can absorb.
Well, surely veggies tasting that good must also be good for you, right? And so they are. For example, tomatoes carry a nice load of enzymes and are also a fine source of Vitamins A and C—in addition to the lycopene mentioned above. With regard to the latter, studies indicate that a high intake of lycopene-rich foods (as opposed to supplements alone) can lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration.
Although cultivated by indigenous peoples in the New World for over 2,000 years, the "love apple" didn’t hit European shores until the early 1500s. Even then, they were considered poisonous. But eventually—yes!—brave cooks in Italy took the dare and haven't looked back since. And, as you know, the dishes they make with Big Tom are amazing.
In the USA, Thomas Jefferson (third president) did much to help popularize this "exotic" veggie during the latter 1780s, for which I extend my gratitude. But I'm not the only enthusiast: by the early 1900s, there were over 150 named varieties. It's certainly one of the joys of our own kitchen: in fact, you might enjoy this particular recipe yourself. It's one of our favorites. And here's a cool salad in both senses of the word. Enjoy!
Please note that the leaves and stems of the tomato plant are reputedly toxic.
Vegetarian Diet Tips for a Slimmer, Healthier Body
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