Biting into the flesh of a fresh, sun-ripened tomato, dipped in olive oil and caressed by a sprinkling of salt, has to be one of the simplest but most delicious culinary experiences. Tomatoes are prolifically in season at the moment. And they’re good news all round.
They are healthy; and they are highly versatile and oday there are said to be about 200 different varieties in South Africa (many are named by the producers).
Some of the better known ones are bright red baby roma tomatoes, “tiger’s eye” tomatoes which have a pleasing red and yellow striped effect, blush vine tomatoes; marmande or large steak tomatoes; plum tomatoes to yellow, orange and ripe green varieties.
Rich in antioxidants and long linked to heart health, fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and triglycerides.
In addition, tomato extracts have been shown to help prevent the unwanted aggregation of platelet cells in the blood – a factor that is especially important in lowering risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis.
Did you know that a medium-sized tomato has 22 calories, 0g fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate (including 1g of fibre and 3g of sugar) and 1g of protein. Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid.
Their beneficial nutrients include alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein.
Tomatoes are a key component in my diet and I can hardly remember a day without tomatoes – whether it’s on a sandwich, cut up with onions and herbs in a salad, in a pasta dish, as a quick salsa or incorporated as the “star of the show”.
Balsamic caramelised onion tart with roast tomatoes
Try this easy and wholesome tomato, butter bean, avo, feta and radish salad splashed with a vinaigrette and accompanied by crusty bread.
Line a flat oven dish with shortcrust pastry and blind bake for about 10 minutes.
While it’s baking, simmer two large onions in olive oil and slowly add a few generous glugs of brown balsamic vinegar to the pan along with two heaped teaspoons of brown sugar. Allow the onions to cook slowly until they are soft.
Scatter a cup of grated cheddar over the baked pastry, then spread the onion mixture over.
Beat four eggs and mix with half a cup of cream, cream
cheese or sour cream and pour over the mixture.
Bake in a medium oven and just before it sets put two handfuls of baby rosa tomatoes crosswise over the pie.
Drizzle with olive oil and allow to roast until they are soft.
Remove from the oven and eat immediately.