Tomatoes are found in almost all cuisines around the world and are the base, or indeed the hero, of many popular dishes. In salads, sauces, soups, hearty casseroles, pies and pastas, tomatoes provide richness, colour and flavour.
As tomatoes are easy to grow in a pot or kitchen garden, green-thumbed residents could help plant and grow a small crop of tomatoes for the kitchen, to give dishes a flavour of home.
Type of vegetables:
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a member of the nightshade family of plants, which also includes eggplant and capsicums. There are many varieties of tomato, ranging in colour, size and shape, such as truss, globe, Roma, cherry, grape and Campari. The most commonly available tomatoes are round with bright red, shiny skin.
- 1 small tomato or 10 cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked
- About 75g
Nutritional benefits: A diet containing a high amount of fruit and vegetables contributes to optimum health and wellbeing, and one medium sized tomato provides your residents with one of their five daily serves of vegetables recommended as part of the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Tomatoes, like most vegetables are nutrient dense. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a phytochemical that contributes to the lovely red colour. It’s important to eat a variety of vegetables from all colours of the rainbow spectrum to maximise the health benefits they provide.
Taste: Tomatoes have a sweet, slightly acidic flavour, although each variety of tomato has a unique flavour and recommended preparation technique. The cooking process often intensifies the sweetness and flavour, especially slow roasting.
Companion flavours and foods: One of the simplest and most delicious flavour combinations is freshly sliced tomato with olive oil, fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella – an Italian classic. Tomatoes complement almost every vegetable, cheese and meat – which is why it makes a great pizza and pasta base. Salad vegetables such as cucumber, onions, avocado, capsicum, carrots, beans, artichokes, asparagus and leafy greens all taste great with tomatoes. When cooked, tomatoes go wonderfully with zucchini, pumpkin, potatoes, eggplant, onions, leek and other roasting vegetables. Tomatoes are great companions to proteins such as cheese, eggs, meats and fish. Herbs, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper all enhance the flavour of tomatoes.
There are countless ways to enjoy the simple tomato. Whether slow roasted, semi-dried, pureed, sliced, chopped or simply eaten raw, this versatile ingredient adds a big boost of flavour and colour to many meals. From start to finish – as the flavour base or side accompaniment – tomatoes are true all-rounders in the vegetable world.
Cooked/baked: Roasted tomatoes are intense in flavour, aroma and colour. Cooked very slowly, on a low-heat produces the best results. Roasted tomatoes can be eaten on their own or in a salad or stew such as ratatouille.
Pureed/sauce: Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds until the skin splits and can be removed easily. Crush or puree the tomatoes to produce a passata. You can add cooked onions, basil, garlic, or salt and pepper. This can be used as a flavour base to a French ratatouille, Italian pasta sauce, or even added to a rustic soup.
Fresh: Of course, tomatoes are perfect when sliced for a sandwich, cut into salads, or diced into a salsa to garnish fish or meat.
Soup: Nothing beats the flavour of a simple tomato soup garnished with fresh basil. Did you know: a good tomato soup base can be used as a base for meals, e.g. Chicken Lasagne Primavera.