Growing up, I was never a fan of the tomato. I just never understood it – it wasn’t sweet, or exceptionally tasty. Why would you eat something that just didn’t do anything for you taste-wise? (“It’s good for you!” is usually never a good enough incentive for me when it comes to food.) Worse, my typical encounters with tomatoes usually involved the discovery of a soggy slice ruining a perfectly good sandwich or burger – not exactly a resounding testimonial for the fruit.
In Singapore, you can find most vegetables year-round, so I’m not super attuned to peak seasons for certain veggies, though I’m now learning slowly. The flip side of this year-round availability also means that the quality of certain fruits and vegetables are compromised, because they are grown and harvested out of sync with what Nature intended… Which is why most tomatoes to me were tasteless.
But my mind was changed when I realized that there’s a peak season for tomatoes, which is some time in the summer to early fall (third week of July to late September/early October – like, right now!!!). And, woah. Tomatoes. At their peak, they’re sweet and tart and plain amazing when roasted as the juices are concentrated; I had no idea that tomatoes could be this flavourful.
Other than now being promoted in my eyes because of sheer tastiness, knowing all their extra benefits will definitely help you to feel extra virtuous about it. Tomatoes are full of Vitamin C – I distinctly remember my mother repeatedly crediting the almighty tomato as the source of her creamy smooth complexion throughout her youth and now, even well into her 50’s, she still has a relatively wrinkle-free mien. She used to eat one, raw, every single day. So that’s definitely proof of the power of the tomato! It also contains lycopene, which is a an important anti-oxidant that can reduce the risk of lung, stomach and prostate cancers.
Plus, as a red food, it’s perfect for being eaten in the summer. According to TCM, red foods correspond with the heart system; they help nourish blood, improve circulation, and reinforce warm (yang) energy. They are usually recommended for people with anemia, palpitations, weakness and cold limbs. As someone that literally has cold feet all the time, even when it’s blazing hot outside, this is one red food that I can definitely dig.
Read on for 2 super simple tomato recipes!
Easy Roasted Tomatoes
What you need:
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
- Herbs (Rosemary or Thyme)
Slice them in half, cut-side face down on olive oil, sprinkle liberally with black pepper, salt and herbs. Roast at 325F for 2 hours. (As you can see I’m not a stickler for exact amounts – use as much as you please!)
Tomato, Cucumber & Quinoa Salad
What you need (for 2 servings):
- Half a cup of quinoa (I used the Super Grains blend from Whole Foods – it’s red & white quinoa + millet + buckwheat)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 baby cucumber, diced
- A couple sprigs of cilantro to taste, roughly chopped
- Lemon juice – about half a lemon
- Olive oil – 2 table spoons
- Black pepper
Prepare your quinoa as you usually would – I typically boil them for about 15 minutes on stovetop. Dice your tomato & cucumber while your quinoa cooks. In a colander or strainer, toss the tomato & cucumber with salt. This draws the liquids out so your salad won’t get all soggy with juices. Once the quinoa is done, let it sit for 5 minutes. Then in a large bowl, toss all ingredients together. Leave in your fridge overnight for a fuller flavour.
Then, proceed to enjoy. Goes great with a nice grilled protein or poached salmon!