Pomodoro, or tomatoes are a key component of many cuisines including Italian, Spanish and Mexican. The tomato originated in South America, quite possibly from Peru. The tomato spread around the world following the Spanish colonisation of the Americas. Originally many people were wary of tomatoes, considering them to be poisonous.
I cant imagine what cooking today would be like without the tomato? Apart from onions, tomatoes are probably the thing I use most in my cooking. I am sure this is true for many of you. I make a lot of Italian inspired meals like lasagne and bolognese, because these are very popular with the kids. I also make a lot of casseroles and always add tinned tomatoes to these.
When tomatoes are in season and cheap, and I am trying to be good, I eat baby tomatoes as a snack instead of other sweet things. I also enjoy making fresh tomato sauces for gnocchi and other pastas. I simply roast them with garlic, rosemary, thyme or any other herb available this brings out an intense and sweet flavour. Then I puree/blitz them in the food processor and combine with slowly sauteed onions and leeks. I make big batches of this and some goes into the freezer for the colder months.
Of course home grown tomatoes are full of an intense flavour and fun to grow, but because they can easily be grown commercially fresh tomatoes are available year round. I think the health benefits of tomatoes warrant them being eaten all year round, either fresh or tinned.
Tomatoes are loaded with vitamins such as A, C and E. They are a great source of potassium and calcium, but their greatest claim to fame is their lycopene content. This is an antioxidant that helps lower cholesterol and protect us against strokes, cancer and heart attacks.
Ways to get more tomatoes into your diet
Our bodies can access the benefits of lycopene more easily from cooked tomatoes. Here are some ideas for getting more cooked tomatoes into your diet in these colder months:
- Baked tomato risotto – use tinned tomatoes to replace some of the stock
- Sausage casserole – tinned tomatoes or tomato soup replaces water/stock
- Curries – try tinned tomatoes instead of stock/coconut milk or add tomato paste to thicken
- Home made pizza – use tomato paste and top with chopped, deseeded fresh tomatoes then add favourite pizza toppings
- Try to use tomato based sauces instead of cream sauces for pasta
- Tinned tomatoes, garlic and onions make a very quick tomato soup for lunches.
We hoped you enjoyed this post on tomatoes and ways to get more tomatoes into your diet. Do you want more information about fruits and vegetables then check out this post on Food Safety Tips for Preparing Vegetables.
Mummy to three small boys